History: Since 1990
The Preston Springs property has been a community landmark with a long and storied history. Since it was left vacant in 1990, different owners and potential proposals have come and gone over the years. It had always been the City’s hope that a viable solution would be found to rehabilitate the building and to bring it back to life.
In July 1997, a grant from the Heritage Conservation Fund was approved by Council of $100,000 to assist the then-owner with restoration and his vision.
Over the years, different Councils have expressed concern about the security and future plans of the hotel, touring the building, requesting updates and meeting with ownership groups to encourage a plan forward. The property was purchased by the current owner Haastown Holdings in 2013.
In an effort to encourage development, the City waived all planning application fees, including development charges and building permits, since the 1990s. And, as recently as 2018, Council approved a working group comprised of councillors in an attempt to work with the current owner to investigate the possibility of turning Preston Springs into affordable housing.
The property has been extremely challenging and there have been significant issues with the building relating to the roof, electrical, structural condition and mould dating back to the early 1990s.
There have also been ongoing concerns reported by the public, police and fire officials, ranging from fires, trespassing, camping, vandalism, graffiti, broken windows, drug debris, and garbage.
The location, history and abandonment of the hotel has attracted vandals, scavengers, graffiti artists, urban explorers, video crews, and those seeking shelter.
The City has made significant efforts over the years to enforce lot maintenance, building security and minimum maintenance standards under the Building Code Act. There have been numerous complaints to bylaw staff, with subsequent inspections and compliance orders issued. These efforts have often been hindered by vandalism and trespassing that has taken place over the years.
Recent engineering reports raised the following specific concerns:
- Numerous openings in floors, unguarded stairs, and elevator shaft.
- The west end of the basement was essentially an open excavation.
- The floor of the entire west addition was structurally unstable and not capable of supporting occupants. The potential for someone to fall through was high given that the main area central corridor lead to this area.
- The original west mutli-wythe masonry brick wall was in a state of collapse.
- The balconies were in advanced state of deterioration with loose guard rails.
- The interior structure remained exposed to the exterior elements and was deteriorating rapidly.
- The building posed a hazard to unauthorized occupants and the building was in possible danger of further structural failure.
- The rate of deterioration of the brick and concrete components increases significantly during freeze-thaw cycles.
Please see overview of Council meetings and directions here.