Remnants of last summer's fire
© Darrell Cole - Amherst News
An excavator works to fill in the downtown property that was the site of a major fire last August that destroyed the Windsor and Black Block buidings.
AMHERST – Amherst’s downtown hole is disappearing.
The town has ordered the hole, that was the former home of the Windsor and Black Block buildings, filled in to mitigate a potential safety risk.
“An order was issued under the dangerous and unsightly premises bylaw and the Municipal Government Act to remedy the condition of the property,” Amherst CAO Greg Herrett said Thursday.
Herrett estimates the project will cost about $25,000 that will be billed as a lien against the property. He said the developer, Alex Filimon, was notified of the town’s decision.
Filimon announced plans earlier this year to build a $4-million, 40-unit apartment complex on the site of the former Victorian Arms Apartments that were destroyed by fire last August.
While Filimon announced in late March that he hoped to begin construction in the spring, several issues – including parking – came to light to delay the project. In July he said via email that he was working through his local issues and hoped to proceed as soon as possible.
Herrett said the town was willing to live with the situation in hopes of encouraging development on the property, “but unfortunately we feel that he’s not going to be a in a position to develop the project anytime soon.”
With news that another of Filimon’s projects in Kentville is the process of being foreclosed, Herrett said the town decided to issue the order because it’s unlikely he will move ahead with the project in the short term.
“We were willing to give the property owner a reasonable amount of time to develop the property after the fire, but unfortunately we feel the time has come for the town to issue the order and have the work completed,” Herrett said.
Several town councillors and members of the business community have expressed concern with the state of the property during the height of the summer tourist season, and while esthetics is one reason why the town decided to act Herrett said the primary objective of acting under the dangerous and unsightly premises bylaw is to eliminate a safety hazard.