You are not logged in.

#1 2013-11-01 00:13:33

Registered: 2008-02-06
Posts: 416

Ryan's Presentation

To: Mayor Mathieson and Members of Council             October 28, 2013

Re: Cooper Site Assessment Report by Lee Parsons of Malone Given Parsons

Lee Parsons started his presentation claiming he was to engage in a community consultation exercise and do a high level assessment and feasibility analysis of options for future use of the site and building.   He ended his presentation claiming they were trying to not recommend a particular option.

Councillor McManus asked Lee Parsons the following questions:
  If the building did come down, how much land is available for 
  Would you need a setback/buffer between a new building and the   

Lee Parsons replied:  “That’s a good question. To be honest I do not know the
answer. We have not gone that far. There would be issues about a buffer. I know the railways have different setbacks than they used to have. There are issues.  Whether you gain or lose land I am not entirely sure, but it is a really good question”

On  November 16th , 2012 Lee Parsons wrote to Christopher Williams of Aird and Berlis  stating:

“ The Cooper Site’s proximity to the GEXR rail line will require  that noise and vibration issues be addressed if sensitive land uses are proposed. Setbacks and berms may be required and will affect the site’s net developable area. MGP has estimated that the actual building envelope of the site is 6.77 acres ( down from the 11.42 acres of GFA) due to setback requirements and the irregular geometry of the site. “

and also stated:

“..we estimate the actual value of the building after accumulated depreciation is taken into account is in the range of $200,000 to  $900,000.”

Removal of the building creates a total loss of available land for development of 4.65 acres , the same area as the building being removed,  therefore removal of the building does not create flexibility but rather eliminates  land otherwise available for development and substantially increases costs. 

During his presentation, Lee Parsons contradicted a number of his prior statements.  For example:

In his November letter he stated:
    “ A low cost alternative to adaptive reuse would involve the demolition of the existing building , leaving the sub-grade structure in place and erecting a standardized pre-fabricated structure on the existing foundations.  We expect such a building could be constructed for $18.3 to $27.0 million. “   

In his presentation he stated:
    “ Costs of a new structure are unknown”

No reasonable person would suggest you take down a superstructure to replace it with a lessor structure resting on the same foundation.

If you agree with Lee to keep the steel structural elements, you gain, as they have been valued by Rylett Engineering at $4,875,000 .  By leaving the sub-grade structure in place as he suggested last November, you will retain an additional value of $1,945,500 as  valued by Rylett.  Reuse of these elements alone would reduce your costs for a new building by $6,820,500. In addition you have several million in site servicing to the existing building with a complete storm water system and landscaping already in place.

In his November letter Lee stated:
    “ it is not likely that reuse or restoration is technically or financially viable”

In his presentation he stated:
    “ adaptive reuse of the entire structure is not a realistic possibility”
    “adaptive reuse has some attractive characteristics”
”what we are saying is don’t throw everything out, keep some 
  elements…and use them”

Lee Parsons has failed to provide detailed costs estimates to support his report and the options presented, which would be expected in a high level assessment and feasibility analysis and is needed to determine the benefits of keeping the Heritage Shops.  Council is left with Lee’s advice that  the Shops can be reused, but must decide for themselves how much to remove, knowing that if they are  removed, you cannot not rebuild on the land the  Shops sit on  due to railway setback and buffer requirements for new structures. Clearly you gain nothing by their removal.

Lee’s  November letter set out there are opportunities for
small- scale retail shops, restaurants and services preferably in a street-facing configuration with net rents of $16 - $18 psf
warehouse and storage as an interim use

In his presentation he stated:
    “ there are no obvious prospects for commercially viable use in his view”

During the open house of the new University building, OpenText stated publicly that they were waiting for Mayor Mathieson to get them into the building.  This is an obvious prospect, but for the fact that expropriated land cannot be used for private use.

I have attached a copy of Mr. Parsons November letter for your consideration.

Councils Notice to the public dealing with Lee’s report stated “ the firm (MGP) will be reviewing all accessible background information on the site. “

Mr. Parsons asked to see my file, which he understood,  contained evidence of obvious prospects for commercially viable uses for the Heritage Shops.   I made arrangements for Mr. Parsons to review  my file.  I asked Mayor Mathieson to help co-ordinate Mr. Parsons access.   Attached to this presentation are documents setting out my efforts to  ensure Mr. Parsons would review my background information on the site.  In spite of these efforts, Mr. Parsons did not attend to review my files.   As such his responsibilities to Council and the public have not been met  and his report is flawed  as it is missing known information which contradicts much of his report .

I invite Council to review  my files,  so they can ensure all background information on the site is considered before making any decision. 

In addition, Ron Shaw asked Mr. Parsons to answer 5 questions I posed back in May.  Mr. Parsons has yet to provide the answers. I have attached the emails in this regard.

Mr. Parsons made a number of misleading and inaccurate statements during his presentation. For example:

Contrary to his comment that  part of the 11.42 acres was being used for parking by the campus, the  University built their own parking on the 1.3 acres of  land given them which sits in front of the 11.42 acres.

He failed to mention the structural reports by Morrison Hershfield  which contradict his comments on the buildings. Council has these reports, from when you first tried to demolish the buildings.

The 2009 agreement with the University obligates the City to provide 8 acres in total leaving 6. 7 acres left to transfer, not another 8 as he stated.

He failed to mention the reports by XCG Environmental which contradict his comments on the environmental and fails to mention existing acknowledgements by the City’s consultants that Risk Assessment is possible, thereby reducing remediation to a minimum.

Lee stated that if you’re a hotel, you have corporate regulations that say you cannot build on a contaminated site. Contamination can be risk assessed and was not a constraint for the hotel that I was building.

Contrary to his comment that you cannot get mortgage money , I had mortgage money of 5 million from Republic and Libro.  In fact I authorized Council  to pay directly from your advance  payment these mortgages which were costs thrown away as a result of your taking the land.

He failed to consider carrying out the adaptive reuse in stages.

Contrary to his comment that with adaptive reuse, your trying to fit something that would not really be suitable to the geometry of the building, any reasonable person would try and fit something that would be suitable.  Since he admits he does not know what the planned use is, there is absolutely no basis for his comment.

He failed to mention  the surrounding properties are contaminated in most cases to a greater extent that the 11.42 acres and that the MOE did not require soil to be removed during my ownerships of the lands.

Lee’s comments that having a clear site provides enormous flexibility in terms of civic and institutional uses and then you can really plan for what is in the best interest of Stratford and to make sure whatever you put there is complementary to the downtown could not be further from the truth.

First clearing the site reduces the land available for development

The footprint of the Shops is 4.8 acres with an  open interior, high ceilings and large windows providing enormous flexibility for uses of any kind.

A responsible and reasonable approach to planning is to do the planning prior to clearing a site.

As Lee reports, most of the land is to go to the University. As per their agreement with the City, the University does the planning, designing and construction as they have done with their new campus building.   Why, then has Lee Parson not asked them for their input and included their comments in his report?  During my discussions with the University, they confirmed they would welcome the opportunity to restore and use the Shops.  This Council need only to give the University the land and let them go to work.

What can only be an intentional and  critical  error of Mr. Parsons report, is his decision to not address my additional presentation comments dated September 10,2013 with respect to the June 3rd Public Meeting nor attach it to his report. Mr. Parsons did attach my original presentation comments to his report.  My additional comments addressed a host of errors in Mr. Parsons prior presentation.   I have attached another copy of my September 10th comments, which need to be considered by Council with Lee’s latest report. 

Mr. Parsons concluded saying that the most flexible option for strengthening the downtown and that accommodates the Stratford campus expansion and the commemoration is to start with a clean site. He also made it clear he is trying to not recommend a particular option.   

Mr. Parsons was not asked to determine the most flexible option, but the most feasible.  His report fails to make this determination.   

The University has not provided any input into Mr. Parsons report, even though Lee makes it clear that the University  is getting most of the  land. Since Council  know, it is the University who by agreement do their own  planning , design and building, Mr. Parsons report seems pointless as does the efforts of this Council.  Just give the land to the University.  They will do the rest.

Mr. Parsons said it was his teams view that clearing the site will provide the most benefit to the downtown and to the community.   Nowhere in his report is there any evidence to support this view.  The community expected as I did that the land was going to the University for a campus to be built in stages.  Obviously the Shops can be restored in stages.  If this is no longer the intent, then Council should make this clear to everyone. 

Mr. Parsons report  does state:
” …it remains possible to retain the building or its shell for potential future use” 

“Complete retention of the core of the main building for a variety of potential uses of at least some parts of the structure could be done”

“…options that should be considered is the preservation of a currently undefined part of the building’s structural frame ( and possible retention of all or portions of the floor slab)”

“Conestoga- Rovers and Associates has been commissioned by the City to conduct a data gap analysis and complete a Risk Assessment of the lands that include the Cooper Site, which results will, ultimately, need to be considered by the City in the context of facilitating any future development of the site.”

It is a draft report

Council and the public ought to have a final report from Mr. Parsons.

As his report and opinions are based on environmental costs that he claims will cost a fortune Council and the public ought to have in their possession the Conestoga- Rovers Risk Assessment Report that the City has commissioned.
I imagine Mr. Parsons has left his report as a draft as he is waiting for Conestoga’s report to finalize his.  In any case it is not fair, nor reasonable for Council to end  public input and make a final decision on the fate of the Shops until both reports are final and everyone has had opportunity to review and comment.

Mr. Parsons  report  states their work was to take a comprehensive approach to assessing all of the relevant factors affecting the future development prospects associated with the use and role of the building on the Cooper Site.   It is fair to say that for all of the reason I have brought to your attention, he has failed.

It ought to be clear to everyone , that of the available 11.42 acres ,  if the University gets another 6.7 acres or 8 acres as Mr. Parsons says and you lose 4.8 acres to setback/buffer from the tracks,  then the City has no land upon which to build.  It is only by leaving the Shops standing that you can have flexibility and a place to rebuild a new use into.

The question is not what will it cost to restore the Shops, but rather can the Shops be used. Mr. Parsons says yes.   Once space requirements are determined for the end use, a detailed costs analysis can be completed.  The Shops consist of their  shell, site servicing, landscaping, parking and open foundations/floors from shops previously removed.   Mr. Parsons report is putting the cart before the horse.

Any reliance on Mr. Parsons report, to justify  taking down  the Shops  is senseless and even more so if done in advance of the Risk Assessment Report  and an approved plan with full detailed costing for the entire lands.

If Council does take the Shops down, and only uses a few of the structural elements as suggested by Mr.  Parsons, I see no reason for Council to not  give back to me, the remaining elements so I can relocate my Project, continuing with the Heritage Shops in a new location.  I ask that Council advise me in writing if they are prepared to give back any remaining elements.

As you know the OMB is soon to issue a Procedural Order dealing with the valuation hearing for the taking of this land.   Part of this Order will deal with the discovery process covering all reports and evidence on assessment and feasibility on all aspects of the site including the Shops.  Since Council has no immediate plans for the site, is waiting for their Risk Assessment Report and  must pay all legal and consulting costs for the hearing, I suggest it would prudent to wait at least until the discovery process is over before making a decision.
                            Lawrence Ryan   519 847 5647

You Can't Fix Stupid!



#2 2013-11-01 00:20:12

Registered: 2008-02-06
Posts: 416

Re: Ryan's Presentation

Groups petition city to preserve rail building

By Mike Beitz, The Beacon Herald

A consultant's recommendation to demolish the former railway building on the Cooper property was itself demolished by three separate speakers at Monday night's city council meeting.

Allan Waddingham of the Grand Trunk Railway Site Heritage Committee, Edward Hales of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) and former property owner Lawrence Ryan all spoke in favour of saving at least a portion of the building from the wrecking ball.

They were responding to an Oct. 15 report to council by Lee Parsons of Malone Given Parsons, which recommends "complete demolition" of the building as the most favourable of three options.

It was clearly not the first choice of the three speakers last night, though.

"It should come as no surprise that we still favour preservation of the three most easterly bays of the existing shop building for a railway-transportation museum," said Waddingham.

That museum could include a GTR or CNR steam locomotive, as well as other memorabilia associated with shops "that for more than 100 years were the heartbeat of this city," he noted.

The site has tremendous potential for educational and recreational uses, he said, and could also serve as a transportation hub for city buses or possibly a GO train terminal.

But the heritage aspects of the site can't be ignored, argued Waddingham, suggesting that levelling the entire building and simply installing a plaque or a post on the site is not enough.

"The history of Stratford and area is too closely related to the development of the railway for that alone," he said.

The decision on the future of the heritage site represents a "watershed moment" for Stratford, he said, urging council not to rush it.

Ryan agreed.

He systematically picked apart Parsons' report Monday night, calling it "flawed" and "pointless."

Since the consultant didn't properly review all background material on the site, did not have a risk assessment report on environmental contamination, and did not consider possible uses for the existing structure, and their economic impact, his conclusion is "putting the cart before the horse," said Ryan.

"Any reliance on Mr. Parsons' report to justify taking down the shops is senseless," he argued, "and even more so if done in advance of the risk assessment report and an approved plan with full detailed costing for the entire lands."

He also argued that, since the University of Waterloo is to receive most of the property for its local campus, and it does it's own planning, design and building, "Mr. Parsons report seems pointless, as does the efforts of this council."

"Just give the land to the university," he said. "They will do the rest."

If council does take the shops down, and only uses a few of the structural elements as a commemorative feature, as Parsons suggested in his report, "I see no reason for council to not give back to me the remaining elements so I can relocate my project, continuing with the heritage shops in a new location," said Ryan.

Hales, who serves as president of the Stratford-Perth County branch of the ACO, also suggested that the complete demolition of the site is the most "radical" of available options.

Like Waddingham, he advocated retaining at least part of the building, possibly for an interpretation centre that would "help present and future generations appreciate the creativity and scope of the railway industry."

He pointed out that Parsons' report, like the Borgal report before it, highlights the heritage significance of the property.

And heritage elements, like buildings, streets, public spaces, rivers and landscapes, are part of a community's "story," said Hales.

So is the Cooper site, he suggested.

"We do not need a shrine of a museum, but a tangible piece of the story," he said, "part of the built fabric of the city and of an industry that played a significant role in building the Stratford we know and live in today."

It will likely be several months before council makes a final decision on the fate of the building, which has been vacant for decades.

You Can't Fix Stupid!



#3 2013-11-01 00:22:06

Registered: 2008-02-06
Posts: 416

Re: Ryan's Presentation

So much for paying for reports that are useless and toss the money out the window, what's the cost for those reports?

You Can't Fix Stupid!



#4 2013-11-02 17:04:14

Registered: 2011-11-11
Posts: 127

Re: Ryan's Presentation

Tear.  It.  Down.



#5 2013-11-04 19:49:57

Registered: 2008-01-01
Posts: 1350

Re: Ryan's Presentation

Tear it down and send Ryan packing once and for all.



#6 2013-11-08 20:30:44

Registered: 2008-02-16
Posts: 2521

Re: Ryan's Presentation

had to post it twice Neilson?

Tear it down



#7 2013-11-14 14:46:29

Registered: 2008-01-01
Posts: 1350

Re: Ryan's Presentation

Boo Hisss Throw the bum out.



Board footer

Powered by PunBB
© Copyright 2002–2008 PunBB