Downtown decay

Darrell Cole
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Second building blocked off because of unstable brickwork

Downtown decay

AMHERST - Town crews were forced to close off part of the sidewalk on Havelock Street late last week after a safety issue was identified with the former Bird's Drapery Building.

"It came to our attention that there was a potential safety issue with the outside brick work on one of the upper floors of that building," Amherst's CAO Greg Herrett said Tuesday. "We took the action that was necessary to notify the owner and have the repairs done to remove the risk to the public."

Herrett said a visual inspection of the building following a complaint revealed several pieces of brick near the top of the building were loose and in danger of falling to the street below.

"We couldn't make the hazard go away just by putting barricades up so we decided to take corrective action," said Herrett.

Along with notifying the owner, Alex Tang, the town hired Vaughn Martin to make the necessary repairs. Herrett did not have the cost of the repairs at hand Tuesday, but said the cost will be passed onto the building's owner.

The sidewalk in front of the building, that has the Amherst Mural Project's Signature Mural on the north side, was barricaded late last week when the problem was identified. The barricades were removed Monday after the work was completed.

This is the second downtown building owned by Tang to have problems. Back in the fall, the town's dangerous and unsightly premises committee ordered an engineering study of the former police station at the corner of LaPlanche and Victoria streets after concerns were raised with the brickwork on the front of that building.

"It's a fairly complex situation and we're continuing to follow the process," Herrett said. "We want to make sure we go through all the proper steps so we don't jeopardize any action that we need to take at a later date."

Herrett confirmed the town has been in contact with Tang about that building, but did not want to get into the specifics other than to say the town is working with the owner to rectify the situation as soon as possible.

Geographic location: Havelock Street, LaPlanche, Victoria

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Recent comments

  • sparky00
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    I'll be surprised if the town gets it's money back. What they should have done is get the building inspector to condemn the building. That way the town takes ownership and can control what happens. From what i see tang is a slum lord, and he won't lift a finger to fix anything.

  • claire
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    I sure hope Tang pays the repair bill and the people of Amherst don't get stuck with it.

  • amherstguy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46 would think that this would be higher priority than hassling someone who is trying to make a few dollars renting signage area on his well maintained building......go figure.

  • Amherstonian
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I bet he's bought these and will let them rot until someone wants the property. I say make a bylaw about derelict properties(or whatever means are necessary) to reposess these places. They are an eyesore, a danger, and a disgrace to the downtown area - i definately think this SHOULD be a priority if beutification is to happen in Amherst - and if you're going to complain about signage, you have to be fair and discuss graffiti and derelict buildings. And I do think all three should be looked at.

  • yikes
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Well as a person of Amherst I'd sooner pay the bill than get an unsuspecting brick in the head. Having said that, maybe the town should designated the the downtown core as a hard hat zone and you have to wear one to enter untill they get these sloppy landowners to maintain their buildings and clean up their mess.

  • Scooter Girl
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    As someone who uses this sidewalk everyday, I would like the town to make sure property owners clear their sidewalks when needed after a storm. It's a great spot for a slip & fall = lawsuit. Maybe thats what needs to be done. Also it would have been nice if the town workers who barricaded off the sidewalk had shovelled a path thru to the road so people could actually cross the street to the other sidewalk without having to climb over snowbanks....

  • WTH?
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    What is it with this Tang guy? He's bought up almost every derelict building in downtown Amherst and is letting them rot into the ground. If guy doesn't even live in Amherst, how much of a vested interest does he have in how our community looks?

    The dude is either a wealthy hoarder or he bought them expecting to unload them quickly at a higher price and wasn't able to. Now they've become dangerous eyesores.

    The town needs to reevaluate its policy on selling core focal point structures to outside interests without specific maintenance conditions being placed upon the sale.

    Tang and others like him should be held accountable for ensuring core buildings are not only safe, but also attractive and in keeping with the rest of downtown. If there is a failure to do so, the town should do the work, bill the owner, and if they don't pay within a fiscal year, repossess the building in question.

    We're no further ahead by selling these buildings to Mr. Tang than if we'd never sold them at all, only now the town doesn't have any real measure of control over how well they're maintained.

  • shananigans
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    It appears that Mr. Alex Tang has several financial businesses registered with the Registry of Joint Stock companies. A Mortgage Company, an Investment company and a Capital business. You would think that meant he could afford to keep his investments in good repair. look for yourself at

    • Doreen Kearney
      July 09, 2010 - 09:59

      I agree with WTH above. This is disgusting that these historical buildings have been left to deteriorate. Mr. Tang has no interest in the Town of Amherst - I as well as many others do care about the downtown area and the preservation of such. Mr. Tang needs to own up now not after someone is seriously hurt by a falling brick or when the buildings are so far gone that they will have to be torn down. This is a darn shame. I pursued having the cleanup of the bird debris in the Bird building (Havelock St.) and believe me it was somewhat cumbersome to get some action. I was concerned that all the bird droppings could cause an outbreak of some type of flu in the town. I saw the inside of the building when I had the real estate take me through.