HomeCharlottetown Charmer - Welsh Owen/Kays Bros. Building

Charlottetown Charmer - Welsh Owen/Kays Bros. Building

Aug 22 2013

Tim Banks, CEO of APM Construction, before rehab work got under way.

By Daria Cohen, Heritage Canada Magazine, 22 August 2013

Built for prominent politicians, merchants and shipbuilders Lemuel Owen and William Welsh, the Italianate-style commercial building on Queen Street - later known as the Kays Bros. Building - is one of the most impressive along this historic Charlottetown streetscape. It was once home to important newspapers, wholesale groceries and commercial activities. Even after suffering three fires, the exterior managed to stay intact. This year, it received a new lease on life after APM Construction purchased it from the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation last year. Interest in the building had bounced back and forth between Tim Banks, CEO of APM, and another local businessman, Danny Murphy, for more than two years. The outlook was so bleak in 2011 that the Heritage Canada Foundation included the municipally designated heritage resource on its Top Ten Endangered Places List.

Opportunities to breathe new life into old buildings do not come around often for Charlottetown developers, said Banks, who coaxed structural engineer Jim Griffin out of retirement to examine the building once it had been purchased. Griffin said it could be saved, but it would be a lot of work.

Today, thanks to the tenacity of Tim Banks and APM, the intensive rehabilitation project is nearing completion The white plastic tarp came down in May, revealing Millcove Construction's stunningly restored brick facade with new custom-made windows built to heritage standards. Inside, extensive structural work was undertaken. The 141-year-old building did not comply with today's load-bearing standards, meaning new 6 x 6 pier footings had to be installed and old beams reinforced or replaced from top to bottom. Not a single new brick was used, as crews were able to redistribute them from windows that had been covered up or from walls that would be gyprocked.

The first floor will be retail, and the top three floors will be office space. The total cost is expected to reach $6.5 million. A $1-million provincial heritage grant keeps APM close to its target of investing $5 million in the building's rehabilitation. With its retail-commercial mix APM will be contributing to the revitalization of Charlottetown's downtown. The company has now expanded its project to include the lot next door, where it will build a 3,300-square metre complex that will carry the historic character of the other heritage properties on the block.

Media Contact: MediaReleases@apm.ca