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Apartment building proposed for Picton’s old Brick Church site

A decade after demolition of the old ‘Brick Church’, plans for the property are being brought to the County’s Heritage Advisory Committee meeting Thursday.

Blair Martin, director of Belleterre Community Partners Inc, is to present a proposal for a three-storey, mixed-use apartment building using a steel shipping container building construction method. The company proposes approximately 30 residential units, and two ground floor commercial units. The rent for 13 units would be considered affordable, he states, at CMHC guidelines of 30 per cent below the market rent values.

With a combination of conventional and modular steel construction, Belleterre notes the new building must comply with existing heritage preservation guidelines that apply to the property.

Martin notes financing would be provided by the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation through its co-investment fund. Market rents for the affordable housing would be provided by CMHC and the Prince Edward Lennox and Addington Social Services.

Belleterre is also working on proposals to redevelop an existing contractor yard on Hwy 62 at Rossmore into a 48-unit “residential common element condominium” with affordable and market apartments, townhome, semi-detached and detached dwellings available for rent and sale.

Belleterre Partners “confess” on their website they are real estate developers and “therefore accept all the negative associations and stereotypes that come with such a confession.” It further notes many of their projects help to address identified community need, or have environmental constraints such as natural, cultural and heritage features and sometimes underperforming properties that have been poorly managed.

“In all cases we put our significant real estate development experience to good use and find ways to make the real estate mindful of its purpose, and mindful of its impact.”

Belleterre has two existing affordable housing developments under way in the City of Miramichi, NB, both using the same construction methods being proposed at 106 Main St., Picton.

The Picton site (across from the current Sobey’s Plaza) was a former church built in 1875 and used by the Methodist Episcopal congregation, until formation of the United Church in 1925 at which time the building was sold to the Pentecostal Church. The church was eventually deconsecrated and sold to private owners around 2002 and last operated as a vendor’s market.

Following a decision by council at the end of July 2010 not to force historical designation on the owners, Steven Draper, of Polepics called for the modest congregation of ‘The Brick Church’ to gather for a photograph Saturday, Aug. 7. Only a handful of people knew its demolition would begin Sunday morning, and an entire wall was down before it was stopped, as all proper permits and safety plans were not in place.

Draper also photographed the building the next day showing an entire wall gone before construction was stopped as all permits and safety plans were not in place.

Shocked by the gaping hole, attempts by the community to save all, and parts of the church were quickly dashed. And what followed was three months of demolition nightmares, including a gas leak, woes with the contractor, and an employee who quit his job moments after he was almost buried alive in the rubble.

The Prince Edward County Built Heritage Fund came about in August 2010, bringing concerned citizens together to discuss how important historic structures in the County could be saved. Since, the annual Christmas House Tour grows every year with proceeds mounting in a fund designated for the preservation and protection of built structures determined to be important to the community and the history of Prince Edward County.


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  1. Hedy says:

    Many varied comments on a bunch of issues about this, partly because of the sad history of this church and how it was mishandled. My 2 cents says: sure we need housing (although rentals are not the ideal; we need proper houses/homes to own in which owners can rent out a flat affordably & still have their own home & equity), but build housing that matches the look & feel of our historic community, with a sense of place. The type of building proposed belongs somewhere else! Developers don’t care but our council and our community should care.

  2. Sam Lanfranco says:

    It is misleading to call this development “ ‘shipping container’ construction”. Shipping container buildings start with adapting a shipping container. This is modular unit construction. I remind us that Habitat 67 in Montreal is iconic modular construction. I saw the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Village in Norway. Modular units were brought in by train, assembled for the Olympics then disassembled for housing elsewhere. Much of the future consists of modular, and 3-D printed housing. Places like Norway (& China) are leading the charge here.

  3. angela says:

    The ROC indicated some interest in the old church but it was demolished before any further action could be taken. With all of the money coming into the county from outsiders who renovate and repurpose a lot of structures in sad shape there could have been a future for the church. Look at the Royal, It was near derelict when purchased and is scheduled to reopen this year after a huge investment of time and money. The church was knocked down and for what? Years have gone by with no sale of the lot and the proposed apartment complex may or may not fly.

  4. Chuck says:

    It was a white elephant money drain. Inaccessible, uninsulated outdated plumbing and electrical and no one wanted it. It was really a worthless rectangle brick structure that had outlived any value. Not trying to be insensitive but those are facts. I don’t know who the folks struck by sadness thought was going to take this on.

  5. David Thomas says:

    Demolition of this church may go down as the saddest heritage preservation moment in County history. Still shaking my head.

  6. LW says:

    Let’s make sure, that if this is ‘affordable’ by the time it’s finished, that we consider all affected people for qualification to live for nowadays, women and more specifically women with children seem to get all these ‘affordable’ and ‘geared to income’ units. We have many single males that are in huge need for affordable living..for single males on disability, it is impossible to find or be qualified for affordable housing and that, in my thinking, is discriminatory against those males and something needs to change there.

  7. SM says:

    Look closely at the proposal. It indicates 11 parking spaces for this development. I have looked at Belleterre’s website and it seems their focus is to create community oriented solutions to community housing issues. I can see some issues with the ‘shipping container’ construction concept but not with the proposed housing concept.

  8. Angelina Carriere says:

    Where do I sign up to live in one of these new homes? The crisis of housing needs has gone through the roof! Homelessness has become the norm. Wake up and get building! This is Canada, and we have housing problems?! Really?!!!

  9. Ron says:

    Drive through any downtown, do the apartment buildings have traffic lights regulating the entrances/exits? My guess is no. This is a development that will house local residents who will shop downtown which is all accessible by foot. Lets not make an issue of a non issue. Housing is a huge issue in the County, this may be a one small step towards a solution.

  10. IG says:

    Seems you can’t win for trying with some people in The County who seem quite happy to complain about the lack of affordable housing then complain when a developer steps up and proposes affordable housing!

  11. Bruce Nicholson says:

    To address KB’s concern, a development of this nature would minimize the necessity for vehicle movement with its downtown walkabiltiy. Canadian cities are seeing more movement towards residential above retail/commercial space.

  12. angela says:

    Traffic at that intersection is already heavy. The addition of a development that would add up to 30 more vehicles to the mix is not desirable. Development is great but where do all of these people find doctors? In the absence of family physicians they are forced to go to the ER in situations that are not true emergencies. Can we realistically service all of this new development?

  13. Sam Lanfranco says:

    Within the zoning guidelines developments such as this in the core of Picton should be encouraged. They are essential to preserving main street businesses, especially as mall like developments take place just west of town. In similar settings in California I have seen such developments have parking lots with seldom used cars, and populated by electric (golf-cart type) modes of transport. I would not be surprised if the strip mall across the street from this site developed upper level residential accommodations. European cities have done this for two centuries.

  14. kb says:

    I want to support this but the location on main street will further contribute to the traffic congestion, especially given the stores across the street with entranceways, and the nearby light intersection at Tim Hortons where 6 routes/streets converge.

    Will this need another set of lights at the entranceway onto main street and how will that work with the entranceways across the street.

    Great idea, but a very poor location.

  15. Fred says:

    Appropriate housing for locals is paramount and trumps heritage.

  16. Argyle says:

    Let’s hope the current council is able to follow the terms of the heritage guidelines and allow meaningful development on this vacant lot.

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