The small and distinctive Montrose Avenue building that currently houses Ivana Tea House is eyed for demolition and replacement by a taller structure.
The current building is a converted house originally built by John A. MacDonald – not Canada’s first Prime Minister. According to a report created by planning staff two years ago, the home was constructed for Gordon “Red” and Marion Gosling. But it underwent a variety of additions and renovations, the latest done in the 1950s.
The house was not included among the six buildings designated for facade preservation in the historic downtown’s new neighbourhood plan.
As council voted to move along the application to redevelop the property, Mayor Henry Braun noted the multiple alterations to the house and said the city is not “tearing down a heritage building.”
The owner of the property hopes to construct a new three-story building on the site. It envisions a 30-seat bakery on the first floor, along with offices above. The third story will include a mezzanine and rooftop patio for the occupants of the office space.
To proceed, the building needs permission to only provide four parking spaces, instead of the 11 specified under the bylaw. City staff endorsed the variance, noting that the small size of the property made it impossible to supply more parking. The city has also just hired a consultant to start work on a parking study for the historic downtown. The study is expected to finish next year.
The Abbotsford Downtown Business Association endorsed the application, praising the building’s design.
“With four parking stalls supplied in this development housing a bakery and two office levels, the effect will further challenge the parking availability in the downtown,” ADBA executive director Jenn McEwan wrote in a letter to the city. “However, this is an overarching challenge of the area already being reviewed and should not impede this development.”
The developer will also pay the city $3,000 per missing parking spot to go toward parking improvements in the area.
New home sought for tea house
Ivana Smulika, the owner of the tea house, wrote in an email that she is sad, but understanding, about the redevelopment of the site.
“Time (progress) can’t be stopped and changes are part of life,” she wrote.
Smulika said she is currently looking for a new home for her business and soliciting ideas for possible locations from customers.
She said customers are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org, drop off ideas in the house’s mail slot, or send a note by mail.
That final option is in keeping with one of the tea house’s main themes: letter-writing. The tea house’s website specifically encourages customers to write letters while sipping their tea. To make it easier in the internet age, the tea house promises customers all the letter-writing supplies they would need, including “the most wonderful stamps,” prepared paper, and stamped envelopes that would be mailed by the staff.
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