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Derelict but historic Thunder Bay home may be demolished

Local developer proposes unique design for Nugent St. project

THUNDER BAY - If the city approves a zoning change, one of the oldest homes on the north side of Thunder Bay will be demolished and replaced with an apartment building.

Local developer Ryan Jones has purchased 26 Nugent Street, at the intersection of McVicar Street, between Court and Cumberland Streets.

The property includes a Victorian shingle style house that was built in 1900. The structure has deteriorated to the point that a tree is growing on the roof.

Adjacent to the house is an outbuilding that was used as a stable when it was built around 1912.

Architectural drawings show a plan for a building comprised of three sections, the tallest being a maximum of six storeys, with stepdowns to three-storey and two-storey sections. The structure would contain a total of 17 units, with an underground parking garage.

In order for Jones to get permission from City Hall, he may need to satisfy the concerns of some neighbouring property-owners.

The developer has applied to change the zoning from the current R-2 Residential to MU-2 Mixed Use.

The zoning amendment process requires circulation of the proposal to other landowners in the area, and some objections have already been raised, including concerns about the size of the proposed development.

Decio Lopes, a senior planner in the city's planning division, says the developer has received that feedback, "and the ball is in their court."

Lopes told that the Thunder Bay Heritage Advisory Committee has also expressed concern, even though the site is not a designated heritage property and is not listed in the heritage registry.

Laurie Abthorpe, a heritage researcher with the City of Thunder Bay, serves as a resource person for the heritage committee.

She said the Victorian shingle style, popular between 1880 and 1900, featured a brick main level and a shingled second level, with a cross-gabled roofline and double chimneys.

From 1920 to 1965, the Nugent Street house was occupied by Richard Walsh, a Port Arthur alderman who was instrumental in modernizing the city's telephone department.

Abthorpe said it's a shame the house is going to be demolished, but "unfortunately it's gotten to the point where the repair of it is not great."

She said the city would like to photo-document the structure before it's torn down, so there is a permanent record.

As for the zoning application, Lopes said Jones could choose to proceed with the application as-is, or meet with neighbours to discuss the project and consider amending his proposal.

In an interview with, Jones said he is aware of neighbours' concerns, and will address them in an upcoming question-and-answer session.

Should the project proceed, it will become just the latest of several new residential building projects in and around Thunder Bay's north core.