Infamous Catharine Street North property up for grabs again
At its worst, the derelict brick house served as a flophouse, magnet for fire bugs and occasional home to the keyholder for an adjoining factory full of toxic waste barrels.
The barrels and electroplating plant are now gone from 245 Catharine St. N. after the city decided in 2011 to bypass the owner, clean up the waste and knock down the factory.
Neighbours appreciated the $135,000 partial cleanup — but they’ve also lost track of the number of fires at the old home, periodic break-ins by vandals, drug addicts or just homeless residents seeking shelter.
“If someone would do something with the place it would just be good for the neighbourhood, you know?” said Nuno Ferreira, who has lived within walking distance of the former factory and its rundown residential neighbour since 1994.
It’s available via city tax sale now, but it’s a tough sell. The assessed value of the polluted commercial property is about $43,000 — but the city is owed $290,000 in back taxes, which represents the minimum acceptable bid.
The city had tried a tax sale before, in 2013, with no takers. But ward Coun. Jason Farr is hinting the result of this fresh
I think we’d all like to see changes there …” NUNO FERREIRA, RESIDENT
effort might be different.
“Residents have been reminding me that what we did in tearing down the factory and putting up the fence, all of that was meant to be Stage 1 of a greater effort,” he said.
“I have to be careful what I say, but I will say I’m feeling confident we’re getting close to being able to announce a Stage 2.”
In theory, the owner could pay the taxes owed and yank the land off the market.
But Dave Maden still faces a court order to pay a $71,000 fine for ignoring past cleanup directives at both the Catharine Street site and a Hess Street North property that still contains barrels of mystery waste.
The 71-year-old didn’t return calls last week, but previously told The Spectator he didn’t have the money to comply with the court order.
A fledgling community land trust also eyed the property at one point, but Farr said he thought the “long-term plan” for the property likely requires “substantial resources” for cleanup and redevelopment.
Any would-be residential redeveloper also faces potential environmental remediation of the former electroplating factory site. It’s unclear if the old home is salvageable or not — its most recent notable fire, in 2013, caused more than $75,000 in damage.
Farr expressed hope the new James Street GO Station and planned development of the west harbour area would make the property on Catharine “a more attractive pickup” for prospective investors.
Ferreira hopes so, too. “I think we’d all like to see changes there — but especially if they’re not spending our tax dollars to make those changes.”