Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The St. Charles Motel--now with 30% more CGA people out front!

Two months ago Ken Zaifman, owner of the St. Charles Hotel, hired architect Sasa Radulovic to come up with a conceptual drawing of the drive way from Albert Street he simply must have. Here is what he came up with:

Promptly sent back to the drawing board, Mr. Zaifman came back to City Hall with this rendering yesterday:

Less green myst is a nice change, more people (preferably non-translucent people) on the street is nice, and who can argue with photos of old buildings that replace actual old buildings, but no mater how this plan is presented to City Hall and the public, it is essentially unchanged from a year and a half ago: simply a plan to demolish buildings for a driveway.

The threatened building, the Albert Street Business Block, perhaps owes its present existence to Daren Jorgenson. While Mr. Jorgenson has been unsuccessful in his continuous attempts to purchase the ASBB, he has succeeded in proving that 'Peggers can again be choosers when it comes to downtown development. No more should the City fear telling a developer "play by the rules or take a hike," because there's better developers out there.

The Exchange District BIZ and CentreVenture may have bought into this antiquated and fearful notion that downtown will fall apart if any short-sighted developer is allowed to do whatever he wants in the city's most historically intact, distinctive and renowned neighborhood.

But the Standing Committee on Planning Property & Development isn't buying it--for now at least.

Here is part of Mr. Jorgenson's letter submitted to members of that committee yeterday:

"In an attempt to help Ken Zaifman get the increased surfacing parking he states he requires for his project to move ahead I have offered to "swap" our back parking lot at the Royal Albert Arms Hotel for the Albert Street Business Block. This plan would actually give him MORE parking than the plan he is presenting to you today because the space where he now proposes to build the "interpretive centre" would not be used as parking.

This property is a classic example of Demolition By Neglect and your Committee must not reward it's owner for his actions. Globe agencies has:
1 - refused to sell the property
2 - neglected to maintain the property
3 - shown no interest in developing the property
* 4 - and now fourthly has refused a swap of adjacent land to meet their stated objective of increasing the parking capacity.

I remind you which company originally brought this demolition of the ASBB to the city in the 90's - IMPARK.

Keep Winnipeg's Nationally designated Historical Heritage Exchange District "HISTORICAL." It is not just the right thing to do but also the smart business move for the area in general. If we hold strong on the heritage aspect of the Exchange District just imagine what this area will look like in 10 years as new investment continues to pour in and build upon the status of the area. We are blessed in Winnipeg to have such an area and we must not cast away the opportunities it affords us.

I took over ownership of the Royal Albert Arms Hotel March 1, 2008 and just wait to see how we incorporate the heritage of this hotel into our business plan. There is no reason why Ken cannot do the same and the both of us can enjoy such success."


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