A strip of stores in Hintonburg was somewhat attractive before, with a row of bay windows on the second floor, a built-out cornice line, and green-painted brick storefronts below (the block is obviously the result of earlier renovations).
But with the explosive gentrification of the neighborhood, a property owner decided the place needed a re-do, one that “modernized” the look. (I do wonder what it might have been like if he had gone for a faux-heritage look…does anyone have a heritage photo of the previous storefronts pre 1960’s??)
The first phase to be redone was the west side, facing St Francois Church and Fairmont Avenue:(pic from first week of December)
Notice the cornice is gone, and wood strapping is being nailed onto the exterior, sure sign that a new covering is coming. And… it looks like it more corrugated metal siding, this time put up horizontally. Corrugated siding is to the current day what aluminum siding was to renovators thirty years ago: ultra economical.
It is an unfortunate oddity of our tax laws that in cases like this there is no incentive for the landlord to go the expense of adding insulation or draft proofing because he doesn’t pay the utility bills. Most tenants won’t insulate, because they are on short-term leases and won’t see the payback. So older commercial buildings continue to stagger on, uninsulated, drafty, with crappy plumbing.
For this row of buildings, huge gaps appear around the steel beam supporting the second floor, but I saw no evidence of insulation or spray in foam being applied. I guess all that infiltrating air might keep the ole floorboards dry.
The western façade is pretty boring: horizontal siding only, with just a bit of darker siding under the windows. But on the north side, facing West Wellie, some different materials were brought into play. Hardiboard, man-made synthetic wood panels, have been placed between the window units. This reintroduces a vertical element to the frontage, a sense of rhythm, and some (artificial) warmth:
This commercial strip was a long way from being heritage storefronts, unless 60’s renos are now heritage. Landlords have the right to modernize their facades, if they think that will attract better tenants. Tacky renovations will quickly look dated and sad.
I look forward to seeing some sort of horizontal roof line put back in above the storefronts, although the landlord might go all-modern and leave it stripped off.
Life in older urban neighborhoods is full of change. This project has given employment to sidewalk superintendents and critics.
What do you think of it?