Partial demolition could save heritage building



Tim Wieclawski/Metro Ottawa


Heritage engineer John Cook oversees the partial demolition yesterday of Somerset House, a downtown heritage building that partially collapsed in October

Work crews began demolishing portions of the partially collapsed Somerset House yesterday in a bid to salvage some of the heritage building.

Early yesterday, a crane-mounted claw began ripping down parts of the southeast roof of the heritage building at 352 Somerset St. W., working down to the unstable masonry. Since the building is too unstable for workers to enter, the job had to be done by mechanical means.

Heritage engineer John Cooke, the project leader, said crews were demolishing the rear portion in order to evaluate what measures can be taken to stabilize the rest.

“We have to partially demolish the addition to the older building, which is basically from the bay window, going to the back,” said Cooke.

Depending on what is uncovered following an assessment of the foundation, a time frame for re-opening the intersection at Bank and Somerset streets can be set. The intersection has been closed since the building partially collapsed on Oct. 19.

David Lee, owner of Vital Health, a nearby health product store, said he was pleased to finally see progress being made on the problem that has hurt his business for nearly eight weeks.

Last week, the city announced it would reroute buses and not charge for parking in the area in an effort to generate more foot traffic.

“There have been more people accessing the area since then, so that seems to have helped,” said Lee.

Court injunction

  • The city had ordered the building demolished last week, but the owner, T.K.S. Holdings, obtained a court injunction in a bid to try to salvage the property.