Thursday, November 4, 2010

Restoration vs. Renovation

Some possible good news for an older building. The five-story block known as Jarvis Apartments on Princess Avenue is being renovated into affordable housing for seniors. At age 75, the 64-unit building was in poor condition, was a neighbourhood eyesore and definitely needed repair. Since cheap living in the core is a rarity, it's nice to know that the building is becoming part of an affordable housing project. According to a November 1 Free Press article, "Once-charming apartments restored," rents will be kept at 70% to 80% of market rates for the next 25 years. All electrical work and plumbing is being redone and new appliances added. If only we could get a few more projects like this for (ahem) those of us who AREN'T seniors perhaps I could live downtown again, walk to work, get exercise, do my part for the environment, attend downtown festivals without having to figure out where I'm going to park - all that good stuff.

But wait, further reading reveals that, instead of the original 64 apartments, there's going to be 53, with a range of bachelor, one and two-bedroom units. Woodfield Developments are adding laminate flooring and ceramic tiles. And the reporter adds "its new red brick exterior makes it look thoroughly modern." How much of the original building is left? Is a 1930s building improved by being made to look "thoroughly modern?" This isn't so much a restoration as a renovation, although many writers, including this one, seem to use the words interchangeably.


  1. Jennifer, I am very impressed with your blog. I am also excited by the idea of having more seniors housing downtown - as many of we baby boomers get greyer and greyer, we are going to need housing. Unfortunately, the former seniors housing operated by the London Housing Authority, is now open to tenants of all ages and many of the buildings face a variety of challenges that make them unsafe for older tenants - 241 Simcoe Street in SoHo is a prime example of the problems.
    On or about March 18, 1950, there was a very serious fire at the Jarvis Apartments, resulting in $75,000 in damages. I believe the fire was on the top floor of the building. At that time, Jarvis Apartments included 64 units and was home to 135 residents. The story was on the front page of the London Free Press for two days.

  2. Very nicely written, you have tried to bring out a unique definition of Restoration and Renovation. Thank you for sharing with us.

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  3. Correction, the reporter mistakenly refers to the "new red brick".
    The buildings beautiful "brown stone" brick was repaired and is original . The complete renovation restored many of the buildings original features and brought the essential life systems up to current standards to ensure another 75 years of service.