Work is set to begin on restoring the Trites-Leroux mansion in Fernie after the owners finally received a building permit to work on the historic building.
The owners – three local businessmen – signed a Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA) with the City of Fernie in September that would see six additional units added to the Fernie property in order to finance the restoration of the mansion, which has fallen into disrepair.
“We are ready to start,” said Dr. Amos Kahane, one of the three owners.
“We are just closing loose ends with the budget. When this is done, we are starting – in the middle of winter, but (the contractors) are going to start on the inside only.”
The full restoration of the mansion has been a years-long affair, with the property needing asbestos removed which delayed the owner’s plans to return the unique mansion to its former glory.
In city council meetings in August and September this year, councillors debated the merits of the HRA, with feedback from neighbours concerned about parking and the addition of additional buildings to the lot causing councillors to extend public hearings by a month.
City councillors eventually decided to approve the HRA at the recommendation of city staff, with only one councillor voting against.
Kahane said that there would be no work carried out on the additions to the property in the near future, as for now they only had a building permit for the main building.
“We are hoping that by this time next year – maybe a little later – we’re going to have the main building ready,” he said.
“(The mansion) is built – it’s just a renovation. Once that’s done, then we’ll see the next step.”
Kahane said that work would carry on inside the building over winter, while items like finishing the windows and raising the roof to bring the third floor into compliance with modern building codes would go ahead in the spring.
Under the HRA that the city council agreed to approve, the restored mansion will have six units, while there will be another 6 units spread over two new buildings adjacent to the mansion on the property.
The restoration of the mansion will be financed by the sale of all 12 units.
Debate over the HRA had touched on the need to preserve the character of the building and the neighbourhood, with city staff concluding that in order to keep the mansion from being demolished due to disrepair, the additional buildings were necessary.
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