Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tommy & Lefebvre Reconstruction: Part 5

The new T&L store opened yesterday at noon. I got there shortly thereafter and got some photos of the inside... which will wait until the end of this series.

Last time, I talked about the demolition of the last bit of the building. Today there are some things to see on the site preparations. Non-Construction site groupies might want to look away.

Toward the end of May 2009, a few days after the demolition started, the empty shell of the basement was cleared of debris, though the interior walls remained.

A week later, those walls were removed, too. If you zoom in, you can see where the floor joists used to fit into the wall. The hodepodge of colours, surfaces, and textures on the remaining wall looks like a piece of abstract art.

Not to mention the somewhat out-of-place chimney.

I'm not quite sure what these two holes were for; possibly they had been columns in the basement, or possibly the floor was simply broken up.

These two holes are where the ceiling beams connected to the wall, which are also visible in the Previous post.

The rest of the site has been covered over with sand until construction starts.

And in this view we see the whole site from further back on McLeod. The Bio-Ped Foot Care Centre sign isn't there any longer (it and the Café McLeod sign have been repurposed for the roof of the pedestrian walkway on Bank between Gladstone and McLeod. Look up next time you're walking through there).

The T&L demolition happened to occur at the same time as the Bank Street reconstruction was doing its digging. As a result, pedestrians had to walk along what was essentially a narrow ledge of ground lined by 6' Modu-Loc fencing. This photo was taken in late July 2009.

And it was around this time that T&L was applying for approvals, which were obtained in record time with the support of the CCCA. This is an early rendering, which was later modified to increase signage and enhance the cornice.

This is the last part of the series that looks at the demolition--the next part will be twice the usual length, and we'll get knee-deep in construction! Tune back in in two days.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tommy & Lefebvre Reconstruction: Part 4

This post is the fourth in a series on the resurrection of the Tommy & Lefebvre store at Bank and McLeod. In this part, we'll look at the demolition of the third building that made up the former store.

The first two buildings were sufficiently damaged by the fire that they could be taken down immediately, but the third portion required a Council-approved permit for demolition, because it's in a Heritage Conservation District. The uncontroversial permit was approved by City Council on 22 April 2009.

This set of photos are a bit more interesting because I managed to get there while they were tearing it down. Here's the front of the building, with the pit of Bank Street under reconstruction at the left:

Toward the back of the site, the debris was being loaded into a large bin. You can also make out some of the second-storey rooms.

This one still had a poster hanging on the wall.

But it had fallen by the next day. I like it when the diggers frame each other like this. The yellow one on the right is from the Bank Street reconstruction.

Here's another angle, showing the pile of debris being cleared. It looks like there may have been some smoke or fire damage near the floor of the front room.

I was rather surprised at the size of the second storey, which was entirely obscured when you looked at it from the ground level. The horizontal windows near the front of the second storey are interesting.

Inside the store. If I recall correctly, this was the cycling department--at least in the summer. They've cut the floor joists and the walls so that the adjoining building doesn't get damaged when the machines pull this one apart.

Looking back toward McLeod.

This is the next building over, at Flora Street. I suppose the façade of this building also dates from when Bank Street was widened, and might be hiding multiple conjoined buildings behind it. The Vietnamese Kitchen put a sign in its window reading "closed for renovations," which was still there last time I checked.

The wall connecting the Vietnamese Kitchen building and the T&L building was at least five bricks thick.

The façade bricks peppered the pavement when demolished, sometimes in intact blocks. The bricks look as though they could be re-used.

I'm not sure if they were, though. Looks like everything was just taken away as quickly as possible. Can't say I blame them; they wanted to rebuild as fast as possible--remember, they're in the business of selling sports equipment, not real estate.

Tune in in another two days at noon for the next installment. For a sneak preview of that one, check out the Google Street View Time Machine (which is to say that the Street View photos taken along Bank Street are from the time of Part 3, but if you click to go down McLeod, the photos are from the time of the Part 5.

Also, the T&L website says that the opening date and details will be posted there on Wednesday:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tommy & Lefebvre reconstruction: Intro and Part 3

As you probably recall, Tommy & Lefebvre suffered a fire at their Bank & McLeod location on the night of March 30-31 last year. At the time (links in the list below), I blogged photos from the following day, and the demolition of the corner building.

They're now close to reopening, so it's a good time to post photos from the rest of the demolition and reconstruction. Check back every two days at noon for the next post in the series (which will also be linked here after posting):

  • Part 1 - Tommy & Lefebvre fire: Posted April 1, 2009. Includes photos of the building before the fire and the day after the fire, plus a video someone took of the fire.

  • Part 2 - Down Down Down: Posted April 6, 2009. The first section is about the first stage of the T&L demo, and shows the mural revealed.

  • Part 3: (This post.) Demolition of the second building, and temporary location

  • Part 4: Demolition of the third building

  • Part 5: Preparing the site, and rendering of the new building

  • Part 6: Double post - laying the foundations, basement walls, and ground floor

  • Part 7: Building the frame of the building

  • Part 8: Walls and ceilings going up

  • Part 9: The big reveal!

Part 3: Demolition of second building

The former Tommy & Lefebvre flagship store was actually three different connected buildings. This made operations a bit difficult, because it also meant three different sets of washrooms, and three different basements with three different stairways. Moving merchandise around was frustrating.

The corner building, built in the 1970's, was demolished first.

Where we left off in the last post, the second building had just come down:

Here you can see the division between the basements of the corner building and the second one.

The rubble piled relatively high for a one-storey building.

Five days later, these machines had taken care of it all. In this shot, you can also see the middle and rear segments of the third building, both of which are cinder block. Thanks to the fire doors, the third building suffered mostly smoke and water damage, and structurally was not too damaged. The truck in the background is unloading stock and customers' bikes.

Here's that rear segment with the parking lot in the foreground, looking relatively undamaged.

Back at the front of the building, you can make out the painted ads revealed by the demolition of the second building, as described in Part 2. There was also a rooftop courtyard.

Here's a closer shot of the painted ad. Some of the bricks at the front of the building have fallen off already, but you can tell that this façade was not original, as it cuts into the red vertical ad.

In this shot from the corner, you can get a decent idea of how the whole site looked. Taken a month after the previous shot, in early May 2009, you can see that a few more bricks are gone from the front of the building, along with the fence-like structure at the top of the façade. The reconstruction of Bank Street was also underway, hence the additional pylons in the roadway.

Days after the fire, T&L had set up a temporary location at 680 Bank in the Glebe, which had been Olympic Sport Centre for many years before being renovated into a short-lived non-sports store called the Pannier.

T&L occupied the location until at least the end of June, when I took this photo, but by late September 2009, it had become the new downtown location of Kunstadt Sports.

Tune in on Tuesday at noon for Part 4, showing the demolition of the third building.

Freeway Moon

Taken Friday in Centretown. Can you guess where? (See the tags for a hint)

While the MTO's Queensway-widening project won't add any lanes in Centretown, they will do "offramp modifications" to "improve" the flow of traffic at offramps.

By "improve," they of course mean "increase": by as many as 600 more cars every day. Where will they go?

The plans also include demolishing the former OBE building on Bronson just South of the Queensway, and running the offramp through it to avoid those pesky jogs onto Isabella. The rest of the site will be turned to greenspace.

Series on T&L building construction coming soon...

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Friday, April 16, 2010

Celebrate the CCCA's founding members this Tuesday

It's been a while since the last update on the Centretown Heritage Project. At the AGM of the Centretown Citizens Community Association in October, I gave a presentation on the origins of the Community Association, which was founded April 2, 1969. The presentation was based on interviews with the four founding couples of the association: Mike and Maureen Cassidy, Joe and June Griffiths, Jim and Elspeth Menendez, and Nan and Tony Griffiths.

Since then, the CCCA has made these eight individuals lifetime members of the associatiion, and I've been re-working the presentation into a 15-minute video, so that it can be more widely distributed, using audio from the interviews.

This will all culminate in a Centretown Celebration next Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 7pm at City Hall (Councillors' Lounge), which will include the awarding of certificates to these couples, and a screening of the video. (Food and drink will also be served)

Brian Bourns and John Leaning will also speak at the event. They were two central figures in the development of the Centretown Plan, which is the next area of study of the Centretown Heritage Committee.

I am the chair of the Centretown Heritage Committee, so if you want to get involved in the project, please contact me!

I also encourage you to come to the event and support the CCCA by buying a membership (only $5) and getting involved in the Heritage Committee or one of the CCCA's many other committees.

See you on Tuesday!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sens Mile 2010

The first time they did Sens Mile on Elgin street (when the Senators were in the semi-finals), every time the Senators won, you couldn't get to sleep if you lived on a major road (Somerset, Gladstone, etc.) because people would honk their car horns as they drove the first few kilometres from Elgin Street--as late as 1 am!

Thankfully things were quieter after the Sens' 5-4 win last night, possibly because it was a week night.

The above is a photo of City crews installing a "Sens Mile" street sign on the South-West corner of Elgin at Somerset yesterday. Today they were installing the one at the North-East corner (among many others, I'm sure!).

Whether you like it or not, Elgin is very definitely Ottawa's Hockey Street.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Parking lot on Queen

Here's a little parking lot on Queen Street near Metcalfe. The one-storey building at the back of the parking lot (which fronts on Sparks) is the Toronto Dominion Bank, which will be coming down for a hotel/condo building--a novelty for Sparks. Next door is the Montreal Trust building.

A cinder block screen wall conceals part of the parking lot, with alternating blocks textured or rotated, in an attempt to break up the unsightly view of a parking lot.

The TD building, Montreal Trust building, and the proposed condo are all documented by the Midcentury Modernist on his blog, URBSite.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bay and Nepean demo, part 5: 355 Nepean Street

Today's post is the fifth in a series of posts on the houses demolished at Bay and Nepean. In the previous post in the series, I documented 357-359 Nepean Street.

Today we'll look at 355 Nepean Street, the second of the two houses on Nepean demolished in this group, and the last of the five profiled in this series (the sixth part of the series will come in a few weeks when the site is landscaped).

In this late November 2007 view of Nepean Street from Bay Street, the first two buildings are not being demolished, as they were not aquired by Richcraft. The next two houses are demolished.

Like so:

355 Nepean was a nice, red-brick single-family house. It appeared to be in impeccable condition, even after years of being empty. It was up close to its neighbour at 347-349 Nepean, which looked shorter and stubbier in contrast.

Its demolition was in progress on March 18. Here part of the side wall was still up, kitchen cupboards dangling from the wall. This side wall was so close to the neighbouring house, that the side-wall windows next door had been bricked up.

A couple days later, the rubble was still being cleared away. Here's a good shot of 357-359 Nepean, no longer overshadowed by its former neighbour.

355 Nepean had a small front porch, accessed from the driveway, on which sat a wood-and-wrought-iron bench. The bench had certainly seen better days, but surprisingly by late November 2007 it was still there.

By late May 2009 the bench had been removed, as had the screen wall behind it. The french door had lost a few of its panes.

And of course little of the porch was left after demolition. From this angle we see Queen Elizabeth Towers, foreshadowing the tall building to eventually be built on the site.

Along the side of the house, this small window at foundation level was barred up and some of the panes broken. More panes would be broken the following winter.

The back of the house was still in very good repair in late May 2009, so much so that it had largely avoided graffiti artists. The piles of dirt under the rear porch had been a recent addition.

The porch itself was a nice piece of architecture. I believe it was tall enough for cars to be parked underneath it.

A picnic bench had been built into the porch. A clever inclusion, I thought. There was also a second porch above the second balcony. This would definitely have been a wonderful house for spending time outside.

Completing the nature theme were vines completely enshrouding the front and side of the house. Obviously they've overgrown since the house was last occupied, but I couldn't help but be reminded of "Jumanji" by this scene.

That about rounds it up for the review of the houses. The next post in the series won't be for some weeks, when the landscaping is finished on the site.

In the meantime, check out the rest of the posts in this series, or some of the other series of posts under the label Tours.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Busted rail on the Corktown Footbridge

When crossing the Corktown Footbridge the other day, something didn't feel right about the height of the railing. On closer inspection, I realized that it had been busted out of shape.

While it does stick out, it's supposed to be at a right angle (coming out to a point, as many people complained), not piercing out like this.

It had probably been knocked by a sidewalk plow or an errant truck. You can see that the supports up along the bridge are all pushed against the fence.

Hopefully it will be repaired soon.