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Kentville’s F.W. Robinson Building slated for demolition this fall

['Mayor Sandra Snow tours Kentville’s F.W. Robinson building.']
['Mayor Sandra Snow tours Kentville’s F.W. Robinson building.']

KENTVILLE - The F.W. Robinson Building will be coming down in the next few months if all goes as planned.

A staff report reviewed at the Town of Kentville’s council advisory committee meeting Sept. 11 noted that demolition and lot appraisal figures were approved in the 2017-18 budget, and town staff continue to support this direction.

“In June, council directed staff to pursue further structural assessment options and report back with their findings at the September council advisory committee meeting. Staff found there was no change to the recommendations for demolition, and recommend that council proceed with this motion as planned,” the report reads.

The document acknowledges that many citizens wished to see an arts centre in the building, or elsewhere in town, and notes that the “recreational needs assessment is the best manner to assess the need and viability of an arts centre .”

Video footage from the meeting shows Town of Kentville CAO Mark Phillips informing council that the earliest demolition could occur would be in October in an effort to minimize air debris during the outdoor patio and farmers’ market season.

“The asbestos and hazardous material remain in the way of further structural assessment and we couldn’t - and still cannot - warrant additional costs associated with abatement for what we feel is a structure that is not worth saving… based on the economics presented to us,” said Phillips, who noted that the building is not, by definition, a heritage property.

No members of council offered a motion opposing the proposed demolition in the discussion that followed, but Coun. Cathy Maxwell did express concerns about the unknowns left on the table.

“After having been in the building I would agree that it is a mess and demolition is probably the way to go, but what bothers me is the fact that we really don’t have (a full) structural assessment because we didn’t do abatements in areas where they can look and actually see if the structure is viable or not,” she said.

Maxwell added that she’s left wondering if a second opinion is warranted to address outstanding questions.

“I’m torn about it. I hate to tear down a building with question marks.”

Kentville chief administrative officer Mark Phillips and Mayor Sandra Snow outside the F.W. Robinson building.

Coun. Craig Gerrard said he’s not comfortable spending an additional $600,000 of taxpayers’ money for a complete abatement of the building for the sake of having more of it accessible for a structural assessment. He asked Engineering and Public Works Director Fred Whynot to speak to the odds of remediation costs increasing as more of the building is assessed.

“It could actually be worse,” said Whynot, who noted that the remediation estimates would only remain the same if the rest of the structure is in perfect condition.

Coun. Lynn Pulsifer said she started to reevaluate her stance on the future of the building after having the opportunity to go inside.

“I just hardly could describe how it was inside. After that visit, it did sway my thinking a bit.”

Mayor Sandra Snow confirmed that the plan to demolish the building is moving forward.

“There have been no viable offers on the property ‘as-is where-is,’” wrote Snow in an e-mail to Kings County News Sept. 12.

“Overall, the building is in a deteriorated state and will require extensive renovations, including mechanical/electrical, roof and partitions. The building was built in the 1950s to the building code of the day. These standards do not meet today’s code and the work is extensive, in the millions of dollars. Additionally it has been unoccupied for 10 years and has suffered from water/snow/ice ingress. Also, there are hazardous materials on-site and the mold type and levels are extensive. This building is beyond economical repair for the Town of Kentville.”

Council has yet to determine if the property will be listed for sale following demolition or retained by the Town of Kentville.

 

Click here to see some photos taken inside the Robinson Building.

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