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Charlottetown development balances old and new, heritage advocate says

Oct 3 2014

Natalie Bull cites redevelopment of Kays Bros. Building as great success story

The Heritage Canada The National Trust has a long history of on-the-ground work in Charlottetown, from restoring Heartz-O’Halloran Row (1975-1977) to the downtown Charlottetown Main Street Project in the late 1980s. The National Trust notes that the City of Charlottetown’s “exemplary stewardship of its heritage resources’’ was recognized in 2005 when it received the Prince of Wales Prize for Municipal Heritage Leadership.

Natalie Bull sizes up the structure in downtown Charlottetown with an informed, critical eye.

The Welsh Owen Building looks old to Bull, who is the executive director of Heritage Canada The National Trust.

The building also looks new, she adds.

Overall, she likes what she sees in the major renovation, redevelopment and addition to a significant historical building that for years housed the Kays Bros. wholesale company on Queen Street.

“There are always compromises when you are trying to integrate an old building with new construction but ultimately saving this building from the landfill is a great success story,’’ says Bull, who is in the city this week for Heritage Canada The National Trust Conference 2014.

“The result is a really interesting complex that tells the old story but also allows for new uses — and a future for the building.’’

The large, four-storey structure with decorative brickwork and round-arched windows had been on Heritage Canada’s Top 10 Endangered Places in Canada list.

The building, constructed in 1872, was at risk for demolition because of a severe state of deterioration it had fallen into when APM purchased the property in 2012 and undertook the project in an effort to preserve and revitalize the structure.

“I think we see a great balance bring struck here (in P.E.I.) with new development to accommodate new visitors and generate new revenue but also being respectful of the character of the place,’’ says Bull.

“It can be challenging to integrate old and new. We have to be flexible and creative. Good designers can do really interesting things starting with the good bones of an old building.’’

Bull says close to 350 delegates are attending the three-day conference at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

The speakers and delegates represent a broad and diverse group.

They include heritage planners, architects, engineers, community activists and academics.

There are also advocates who are fighting to save historic places in their communities as well as community organizers involved in economic development and all the components required to keep historic communities alive.

“This is really about bringing together people who can share strategies, success stories, bring examples from communities and historic projects that are successfully adapting, reusing, repurposing historic places: giving new life to places that were important to us in our history and can be recycled and reused,’’ says Bull.

Heritage Canada The National Trust is a national registered charity that inspires and leads action to save historic places, and promotes the care and wise use of our historic environment.

Original Article: Charlottetown development balances old and new, heritage advocate says


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