Monday, November 21, 2011

Council Approves Terms of Reference for York House Repurposing

Fredericton City Council has approved the terms of reference for the municipal working group charged with finding alternate uses for historic York House in Downtown Fredericton.

As a result of public concern about the proposed demolition of York House in 2006, a deal was worked out that resulted in the City of Fredericton acquiring the building late in 2007, said Coun. Stephen Chase, chair of the York House Working Group. The intent at the time was to save the late-19th Century historic building from demolition and convert it into municipal offices. It has become apparent that such a plan is not financially viable for the municipality, so let's figure out what else the building can be used for.

The working groups mandate will be to determine possible strategies for repurposing York House, as well as the optimal strategy for the historic building, either in a public or private context. Regardless of the future use, any repurposing effort must ensure that the exterior of the building maintain its historic look and is self-sustaining, requiring no ongoing funding from the City of Fredericton.

With the terms of reference approved for the working committee, the next step will be to develop a feedback mechanism to seek input from the community. The first phase of that input will be done online and it is hoped that the web page for feedback will be ready early next week. Recommendations on the repurposing of the building will eventually be reported back to City Council.

The York House Working Group includes Coun. Stephen Chase, Chair, and City staff members: Chris MacPherson, acting City Administrator; Greg Cook, Executive Director for Capital Projects; Don Fitzgerald, Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives; and, Calvin Thompson, Real Estate Manager. The request to form a working group came from the Development Committee meeting of October 18, 2011.

About York House

York House, located at 193 York Street, was constructed in 1893. It was designed by James C. Dumaresq, architect of the New Brunswick Legislative Building, as well as St. Paul's United Church and the Charlotte Street School.

The building was originally constructed to house the Fredericton High School and an elementary school. Through the years, York House has also been used for Teachers College classrooms, the City's public library, a Student Employment Centre and a Youth Hostel.

The Brunswick Street Baptist Church purchased the property in 1965. The building was used for various church purposes and was renamed York House. Due to the growing needs of the church, plans were developed for a new church building. To allow for the new building, York House was to be demolished.

Due to public concern regarding the demolition of the building, Fredericton City Council directed City Staff to negotiate with the church and congregation to buy the building for use as municipal office space. A deal to purchase York House and allow the church to expand was approved in December 2007.

The building was added to the City of Fredericton's Local Historic Places Register in July of 2009

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