Horton Place hears adieu

#15342 Yonge Street has been on the market since October of last year.

Known as “Horton Place” this was one of 3 properties involved in the ridiculous and ultimately unsustainable “Hillary-McIntyre Park” concept that cost the Town of Aurora $20,000 to prepare a Cost-Benefit Study.

Spoiler Alert the costs outweighed the benefits and the town passed on purchasing the property for a reduced cost of $1.2 Million.

The $1.5 Million asking price attached for this property seems very absurd when The Economist has pegged Canada’s housing as the most overvalued in the world when compared to rental rates, and the third-most overvalued when compared to incomes. You can read the full piece here: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/04/20/canada-housing-overvalued-the-economist_n_7102338.html

Something that the market seems to confirm given that it has been on the market for over 1/2 a year.

Taxes of $6,000 don’t reflect this evaluation either.

To add to the absurdity those looking for a heritage home could by ALL 10 of the homes on this list and still have $500,000 to spare:
http://www.housebeautiful.com/design-inspiration/real-estate/g1910/affordable-historic-homes-for-sale-countryliving/?src=TrueAnth_HOUSEBEAU_TW

What is also curious is that in the Sothebys listing here:
http://sothebysrealty.ca/en/property/ontario/greater-toronto-area-real-estate/aurora/67124/
there are links to the Town of Aurora’s Promenade Community Improvement Plan as well as the Town of Aurora’s Zoning bylaw #2213-78, but no mention of the Cost-Benefit Study available in Report CAO14-001.

It is report CAO14-001 highlights how the property sits on a flood plain further restricting its potential usage.

On page 35 of the study we read:

At best, the continual upkeep of the Horton Place in private ownership and the ongoing operation, maintenance and capital investment as necessary in Hillary House, is a “potential scenario”.

Interesting take considering that the “continual upkeep of Horton Place” certainly isn’t a current scenario.

A trip in the wayback machine finds a page on the town’s old website that informs us that the owner “intends to continue to maintain and restore the property to its original form as need arises”:
https://web.archive.org/web/20070515182205/http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/aurora/index_e.aspx?ArticleID=411

The same page also references property grants from 25 years ago along with restoration efforts that seem to stop over a decade ago.

So what exactly is meant by “a sustained effort to maintain Horton Place in its original state.”?

A stroll by the property reveals shutters broken, paint peeling and a roof and chimney that is in need of repair:

On page 13 of the town funded study we see a much greater list of issues with the property as extracted from a Home Inspection conducted back in November of 2013.

Under Exhibit #2 is revealed a breakdown of Repair & Maintenance Costs.

The total under “Immediate must do” is $15,000. That amount fails to include a figure for a safety item of overhead wiring.

Under Medium-term or “Can and should do” we see a significantly larger sum of $65,000.

This includes the chimney and fascia but also starts hinting at foundation repairs and removal of Asbestos insulation.

It is under Long-term repair where there is an “*” that indicates “budget unknown”.

And why is that you might ask? Well because an assessment of heritage repair and restoration needs/costs associated was not done.

It is mind boggling that this costly 3rd party report endorsing that the town buy this property actually states:

items identified in the following exhibits do not take into account expenses related potential heritage-sensitive improvements which are likely to result in additional costs.

It continues to state that “it is estimated that such a specialized inspection would need to be undertaken in future as means of preserving the heritage value/features of the property over the long term.”

You mean the heritage features that are protected by designations under part 4 and 5 of the Ontario Heritage Act that the report seems to suggest that the current owner is in contravention of?

Perhaps back in 2008 it could be said that “Horton Place continues to be a prominent well-maintained property of the streetscape.” as is stated in the listing on the Canadian Register of Historic Places here: http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=8661

However in 2015 we see the hedge at the front of the property has actually pushed out the small iron railing, a mentioned heritage fixture mentioned in the above listing causing a potential safety concern to those using the sidewalk:

One can’t help but note the blatant hypocrisy arising from the fact that this property was among 2 others in a project 100% endorsed by Mayor Dawe who condemned the George Browning House “a money pit” : https://wattstrending.wordpress.com/2012/04/05/money-pit-or-money-pile/

I don’t care who buys #15342 Yonge Street I’m just glad that the Town of Aurora isn’t venturing into that money pit.

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