HomeWith Kays Building, no brick left unturned

With Kays Building, no brick left unturned

May 27 2013

Alden Gauthier (from left), Neil Gallant, Peter Clark, Dylan Voegtle and Al Morris of Millcove Construction are among the dozens of workers responsible for preserving the Kays Building.

Ross, Shane. With Kays Building, no brick unturned. The Guardian 27 May 2013

When the white plastic wrap finally came off the outside of the Kays Building in Charlottetown on Thursday, someone joked on Twitter that he expected to see an all-glass structure with a picture of a smiling Tim Banks saying gotcha.

But what he saw was just what Banks told everyone they’d see when his company, APM, bought the crumbling building last summer: a beautiful brick façade with new custom made windows restored to heritage standard requirements.

“I don’t think people will be able to appreciate how much work was going on behind that wrapper,” Banks said Friday while taking me on a tour of the joint.

Since last fall, behind that white plastic wrap, Al Morris and his co-workers at Millcove Construction have been refilling every crack between every bloody brick on any savable wall in the four-storey building.

Bricks by the hundreds, thousands – hundreds of thousands. And not a single new brick was needed. They were simply redistributed, from windows that were bricked up or from walls that would be gyprocked.

So it turns out Banks was not a brick short of a load, after all. There were some who thought he might be when he took on this project in the first place. Demolish it, they said, it’s beyond repair.

But Banks coaxed Jim Giffin, a structural engineer based in Amherst, out of retirement to take a look. Giffin said it could be saved, but with a lot of work.

Because the 141-year-old building didn’t comply to today’s loading standards, workers had to get into the crawl space and build new six-feet-by-six-feet pier footings. Then they replaced or reinforced old beams from top to bottom. Then, Banks said, they cut the floor system out on each storey and jacked it up to make it level.

“In some areas it had dipped eight to 10 inches,” he said.

Banks said he is about $400,000 over budget on the project so far. It is expected to cost about $6.5 million total. The provincial government will kick in $1 million when it’s complete. Banks hopes that will be by September.

The first floor will be retail, and the other three will be office space. Banks wouldn’t disclose the prospective tenants, preferring to let them make the announcement, but it has been widely rumoured Scott Linkletter of Cows is taking the first floor. When reached on Saturday, Linkletter was tight-lipped but said he has no plans to move the ice cream store from the current location on Queen and Grafton. He also has an emerging cheese and oyster business.

Only the second floor has yet to be rented. The law firm Campbell Lea had considered moving there, but needed more than the 5,400 square feet that was available. Instead, it will move into a new building APM is proposing on the parking lot beside the Kays Building on the corner of Water and Queen streets. That building will also become home to APM’s real-estate division.

If left alone, with water leaking in and the infrastructure weakening, Banks said the Kays Building would have needed to be demolished within five years.

Good for him for stepping up. Preserving a piece of heritage, in my opinion, is always the best solution, as long as the building is safe and sound.

Banks says it’s now one of the safest buildings in the city, but just to be sure, I asked Morris, the guy with the mortar and trowel working tirelessly to fill the cracks between all those bricks.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “It’s safe all right.”


Media Contact: MediaReleases@apm.ca