Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Enthusiasm for CN Building renovation the focal point for Council following Monday night presentation

The praise was fulsome from many of the city's councillors on Monday evening, with enthusiasm high towards plans to move forward on renovations for the waterfront CN Building, with a preview of the work to be done offered up by the architect of the rebuild at the Monday's Council session from the Lester Centre.

As part of the presentation by phone from Mr. Charlie Maddison of the firm Boni-Maddison, the overview opened up a bit of a historical review of the structure and it use in the community from the earlier of days, making note of the structural design and work that went into the building along with some of the unusual features such as the trestle that took people to the second level.

He observed how the current structure looks much the same as it was in its first days of service to the community. Which led into his overview of the current status of the structure noting of some of the replacement work that will be required, such as windows, doors, some of the joists

The structure when refurbished will features a 4,000 square foot print on the ground floor, and with a conservatory planned as part of the development of the second floor, that space will equal the same square footage on the top level.

As part of the development they will take advantage of the existing parking in place and add some parallel parking along the track side of the structure, he also observed a new road to be built in front of the building that will lead to the new Ferry Terminal proposed for the area.

One key element of the work to date involved his notes on the need for seismic upgrading for the building, which he noted was going to be a greater part of the building project cost than originally anticipated. The Building does not have any seismic ability that meets a present day code, which will be remedied by the seismic upgrade project that they plan to get underway on within the month.

That will involve the need for the installation of seismic braces in a number of places on both the ground floor and second floor. Not only is there a need for seismic bracing, but also a need to provide for support for the bricks, with a proposal to build up agains the wall a second steel stud wall that will run along the perimeter of the building. 

With the Wheelhouse Brewery to be the first Tennant for the building, Mr. Maddison outlined what will be done to accommodate their operations. With their brewery operation set for the North end and a plan to remove the second floor to host their towers, with the production area stretching along much of the ground floor on the side adjacent of the track side.

The retail side will be on the water side, with the front door access leading into the commercial space. there is also plans for an entrance canopy, also to be included will be a glazed walls and skylights to provide the overview to the harbour, a kitchen facility, offices, washrooms and a potential for suites are also part of that segment, along with grain storage areas for the brewery production area.

Another feature will be the conservatory and the roofing structure that could feature solar panels if desired.

All images above from the Monday presentation
(click to enlarge)

Towards the restoration work, the project was described as an adaptive reuse of the building,  as opposed to a truly historical restoration. That allows for more leniency towards the work itself and allows for such features as a rolling shutter door, while keeping some of the heritage elements of the past and perhaps used in different locations of the building than where they are now.

Councillor Randhawa had the only question from the Council members from the presentation, inquiring about the state of the foundation and if there will be a new foundation required.

Towards the foundation work, there are plans to cut the slab and then to reinforce the structure around the perimeter, with micro piles and concrete grade beams to hold the suspended slab, which will make for a completely new floor system on the ground floor. Structural steel will create a new frame for the second floor and carry the roof over the outdoor patio under the conservatory.

Mr Maddison also noted that other than area damaged by water much of the original wood joists of 1920 remain in good condition, which means less work in that area than might have been required.

The Mayor brought the presentation to an end by thanking he and his team and expressed his enthusiasm towards the progress for the historical build ahead.

Later in the evening, as part of the Regular Council Session, the city's council members had their opportunity for comment, touching on a range of elements from the presentation of the night.

Towards that discussion Council reviewed the themes for a variance request by the City for parking related themes as part of the Development Permit process. 

On that topic the Mayor led off the discussion, starting first with a look at the timeline of the project and other elements.

Mr. Brain noted that the project is being paid for through grant funding that the city has accessed and not being funded through taxpayers. Towards a timeline he was advised that the hopes are that the building will be be in operation by September of 2022.

Councillor Adey took note of the issue of project costs and the impact that it may have towards the finished project.

"In listening to the presentation, it struck me that there is likely some questions around project cost and the impact that it might have, I understand how you've pointed out that this is grant money. But at the same time if there is a cost framework that requires adjustments, I'm not sure that the first thing that needs to happen is the allocation of parking spaces. It seems to me that given the timelines we have quite a long time before we have to commit to a variance on parking spaces, based on a project which may emerge adapted to whatever cost implications arise"

In response, the City's contract planner Mr. Buchan observed that without compliance in the zoning bylaw a building permit cannot be taken out, with the variance issue permit also required as part of that process.

Councillor Niesh offered up his observations on the project, expressing his enthusiasm for the work ahead.

"From a builders perspective it would probably be easier to knock the building down and build a new one exactly the same, probably way cheaper. But obviously we know that historic value comes into play and we have to take that into consideration. And obviously with today's codes and building seismic upgrades  and all the things necessary ... that is obviously going to drive the price up. 

 That being said I do feel that it's a great day, that maybe today we are starting to move forward on you know not just that building, but the beginning of a new waterfront. I think our community has looked for years for something to happen down there and I think that this is only the beginning.

In my eyes although it may be a little bit more expensive than if we were building a new building this is about remembering the past also and starting a future of a new waterfront. And I think this is going to be an amazing project if it goes ahead and I'm looking forward to it and support it myself"

They Mayor added to the discussion noting how the CN Building project is separate from the previous waterfront project with Kitkatla announced at the Redesign Rupert 2030 launch, with that project still in motion with hopes of providing more details on that element by the end of the fall, with that presentation to provide more background to the transformation of the waterfront.

Mr. Brain also note that as for the CN Building there will also be the opportunity for food service to be included and  how the building will be accessible to children during the daytime, making the location available community wide beyond just those who may like to drink beer at the waterfront.

Councillor Cunningham also offered up his support for the plans, noting how it will be something nice for the family or not, on the waterfront and will be a destination in Prince Rupert. Adding that it's the first step of what he hopes will be development not only on the waterfront but around town, as well as how the CN building will be changed from an eyesore to a showcase, which he is excited to see.

Noting of reporters from the local paper in attendance, the Mayor observed that he is looking forward to seeing a thorough report on Mr. Maddison's presentation.

Towards the Development Permit approval Council offered their approval and moved the process forward.

You can explore the full presentation from the City's Video Archive of the Monday Regular Council session, Mr. Maddison's overview leads off that segment of the night, the Council discussion related to it follows at the 46 minute mark.

More notes on the Monday session can be explored from our Council Timeline Feature.

Further background on the CN station work can be reviewed from our Archive page here.

1 comment:

  1. One thing I wanted to see in the presentation was information on our carbon footprint. I only saw part of the presentation but what I did not see was information on the mechanical side of things. I would think the heating system to be heat pump system such as the council supported with their zero carbon, Redesign Prince Rupert 2030.

    I would not expect any natural gas or hydrocarbons used in the new facility. Another thing not mentioned was area to store compostable materials from the brewing process and restaurant. I would think the Wheelhouse should of been present at the meeting to commit to the councils vision and policy’s for the future.