Wednesday, January 20, 2010

South of South Side Colborne

It seems the plans will go ahead. The article states thta money is now available to start tearing down the buildings. While many are looking forward to that moment there are some voices of concern regarding the entire exercise. I don't mean from groups who believe some of the structures are heritage structures and perhaps still may have a future use in downtown Brantford. There is a lot to be said for preservation and restoration, which I'm not going to get into. Although I will say some of the architecture is quite interesting. I do admit to not having any past or ideology regarding the downtown core, I just want to consider a few things that's all.

However and this has interests me, how it will take place. One of the local writers made some points. Tim Philips in a recent commentary mentioned his concern about the numbers which are being used to describe the costs of the project.
Now you have to demolish the buildings. While demolition is not rocket science, this site holds some particular challenges for engineers and contractors. At some places, the difference between Colborne Street and Warfe Street is more than 15 metres. The challenge is to keep Colborne Street from sliding down the hill into the parking garage.

This means that you cannot just bring in the bulldozers and start knocking down buildings. This is especially difficult as the tender calls for the complete removal of the foundations except, I believe, for the front wall if needed to stabilize the slope. Bear in mind, a similar issue of shoring up a structure existed at the water-treatment plant and the result was a building that tipped over and a bill for millions of dollars.

The distance between the two feet and by that I mean vertical feet, or metres is the challenge. As he states, its not a matter of getting the bulldozers out and start levelling, but to consider the fact that the ground slopes and it does that with different depths over the area.

With that in mind, I took my trusty cellphone and decided to take some photographs. Fortunately, it was a lovely afternoon:

There is some scale issues which need to be addressed. Still they were built that way and the topography hasn't changed since the first structure was built and from the dates on the buildings, they have passed the test of time. It seems the issue has to do with the overall collapse of the economic base of Brantford rather then anything which might have caused the dilapidation to this part of the street. Perhaps some are concerned with the potential structures to be built, more University buildings, a Community College, and a YMCA. All three have the potential of producing some large structural footprints and with the slope, then again the hope is the city will hire the right sort of engineers and contractors. People that are not just demolition experts but are aware of things such as soil and the effect of slope on demolition and building.

The costs so far are just under $7 Million for the purchase of all the properties. All of which must put the City of Brantford as the major tenant and landlord throughout the downtown core. The end, we all hope is that a revitalized downtown with buildings and people not only learning and working but living. I believe I have mentioned that what downtown Brantford lacks is the critical mass of people living downtown. If they achieve it, then the entire picture of the Core will change and the downtown will be reborn.

The plan is for everything to start in February and finish in June. I shall be there to record it all.

1 comment:

yawngie said...

Your pictures of the empty marker square say it all - that is not the future for Colborne St. Many of these buildings can be salvaged for small scale boutiques etc - the bulldozer is very unforgiving and final.