The City of Ottawa has recently received an application to construct an addition to Somerset House, located at the corner of Somerset and Bank.
Last summer, city council reluctantly approved the partial demolition of the historic building. Prior to that, city hall had approved a major restoration plan for the heritage building. That decision came years into a legal battle between the city and property owner Tony Shahrasebi, which began in 2007 when a part of the building collapsed.
In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Councillor Catherine McKenney said, “This is, to me, a prime example of demolition by neglect.” McKenney, who represents Somerset ward, added that “allowing a building with heritage status in a heritage conservation district to slowly deteriorate to the point where it becomes a safety risk… I believe that the owner has got a responsibility to the community, to the neighbourhood, to keep that building in a state that maintains its heritage qualities and its uses.”
Dating back to 1902, Somerset House was once a hotel and tavern. Under the approved restoration plan, a modern new building is supposed to be constructed behind what’s left of its facade.
A report on this application will be considered by the City’s Built Heritage Subcommittee on April 13, 2017, Planning Committee on April 25, 2017 and City Council on May 10, 2017.