Heritage home. 2,500 square feet. Edwardian character. Free. Must provide own land.
A Lower Mainland developer is hoping to save a North Vancouver heritage home from demolition by offering it up for free to anyone who can have it trucked away to its own vacant land.
The 1909 home at 245-248 East Fifth St., dubbed the Ward House, is on a lot scheduled to be redeveloped into townhouses by Tien Sher Homes.
“There is a lot of character in it,” said Charan Sethi, Tien Sher founder. “If we feel it’s the right person who’s actually going to turn around and use it somewhere, they can have it for free,” he said.
The house was first owned and occupied by Percy Ward (1882-1964) and Zellah Celestine Ward (died 1962), according to documents filed with the City of North Vancouver in 2010.
Another character home on the same block will be fully restored by the developer.
Moving a heritage home starts around $40,000 to $60,000 and can climb higher if the mover must arrange for telephone and hydro lines to be temporarily removed. But that’s still a “hell of a lot cheaper” than building a similar structure elsewhere, Sethi said.
Moving heritage homes otherwise slated for demolition is an innovative solution to preserve heritage that more developers should be pursuing, said Kyla Gardiner, a North Vancouver real estate agent who specializes in heritage homes and a board member with the North Shore Heritage Preservation Society.
“It seems everywhere you look, these old homes are being torn down and new homes are being built and we’re losing that sense of history in our community,” she said. “It’s such a waste. We talk about being a green city and it’s just a joke with everything being demolished. There are so many opportunities for innovative solutions.”
The society prefers that old buildings be restored and given heritage protection, but that’s not typically an option on the table said Jennifer Clay, society vice-president.
“Our preference is always to retain the house as much as possible but we understand we can’t block development,” Clay said. “It’s an unavoidable consequence of progress.”
Smart developers are using heritage preservation as leverage when negotiating for redevelopment with municipalities, she added, often by moving a century home elsewhere within the same lot and freeing up space for infill development.
Clay said her dream is to find someone with a huge plot of land, anywhere in B.C., to be set up as a heritage village — new home for old homes.