The ByWard Market buildings destroyed by fire last April will be fixed up and William Street will be “refreshed,” according to the heritage architect on the project.“When people see the outcome when we complete the work, it will just feel like William Street always was,” Barry Padolsky said Thursday after the city’s built-heritage subcommittee received a brief staff update on the major reconstruction project in the heritage conservation district.Fire ripped through historic buildings on William Street on April 12 when roofers were working on 35 William St., where the restaurant Vittoria Trattoria is located. Ottawa Fire Services said the roofers accidentally started the fire. Billows of smoke hovered over the tourist district as firefighters extinguished the stubborn blaze. No one was injured.
Ottawa Fire on scene on a 2-Alarm fire at 35 William Street in the Byward Market.
Scott Stilborn / twitter /
The preliminary damage estimate was $2 million, but that number was expected to climb as assessments continued.There are multiple property owners impacted by the fire.“The fire swept through five of the buildings and made them inhabitable and four of the five are, in the interior, totally destroyed,” Padolsky said.“It’s hard to tell from the street, but when you put on your hard hat and boots and go inside, it’s basically all destruction.”Padolsky, who’s also a member of the built-heritage subcommittee, said four of the five damaged building facades will be retained.The facade at 41 1/2 William St. needs to be demolished because workers need a place to remove all the damaged debris on the site, like creating a giant door opening. The bricks from the facade could be reused in the reconstruction.Padolsky said the city issued a heritage permit Wednesday for the selective demolition of the heavily damaged parts of the buildings. He anticipates a demolition permit will be issued in the coming days so the tear-down work can begin.The plan so far is to have reconstruction plans ready in the fall, he said.City staff estimated that reconstruction could begin next spring, since there might be other planning approvals required, but Padolsky said some of the project could begin earlier. The building owners are “impatient” to get going and the city is helping with the permit requirements, he said.“We’re wanting to do it as quickly as possible,” Padolsky said. “Some parts might start earlier than others, but I think we would start even in the winter if we could.”Padolsky said it’s a tricky project because it’s a busy pedestrian area and the project team doesn’t have complete information about the makeup of the damaged buildings.“It’s like being in the emergency room of a hospital. You have this crisis and you have a number of different buildings that were damaged in different ways,” Padolsky said.“We know very little about the anatomy of each building because some of them are 120 years old and they changed over time, so we expect to learn a lot after we gut the space behind the facades to learn what’s really going on in there.”ALSO IN THE NEWS:Popular bar Hooley’s closes, owner blames Elgin Street construction‘Kids playing in the dirt’ Are some local public school children being shortchanged?Advocate ‘beginning to feel frustrated’ after cyclist suffers life-threatening injuries in email@example.com/JonathanWilling