Saturday September 4, 2010

Local News

When The Walls Come Tumbling


Demolition begins on landmark Empress Hotel

Staff/Voice photos


A mounds of bricks from the structure that was the Empress Hotel on Friday as demolition teams move ahead.


n Friday, crews began in earnest, the demolition of the 1908 Empress Hotel to make room for apartments or condo developments after the City recently purchased the stagnant lot.

The Hotel's glory days are decades gone and more recently, the building served as a low cost rooming house, but was riddled with maintenance needs and social housing woes which added to an already troubled and drug-infested neighbourhood. Out with the old, in with the new.

For some, it's an eyesore and had to go. In order to have a vibrant downtown, it's necessary to have people and families there and fit the OCP nicely. Practically any development on the property will be better than it was

For others, there is a sense of loss of nostalgia as the building tumbles down a few bricks at a time and the mounds pile up behind in the fenced lot.

Although there isn't a rush on for bricks, some might grab one for keepsake. When a building is demolished in Vancouver, for instance the Georgia Medical building, many of us ran down to get a doorstop or paper weight. It's not known at this time if the city will lay an "Empress" cornerstone on the new development just for good luck.

At least one part of the Hotel is being recycled however. The patio on the Princess Ave. side was sold for $100 to a home owner who is using the wood to build a sun deck.

A Facebook page called "Save The Empress Hotel" that was created by Richard Erasmus in Vancouver asked their 415 members to "show your support and appreciation for one of Chilliwack's heritage buildings" but did little to slow the wheels of progress. Recent posts on the page indicated some weren't happy with the demolition.

One poster wrote, "Yes truly a sad day cause our city does not respect the history of this fine lady the Empress" and another

The hotel was built back in the days when asbestos was used for insulation. Crews may be using water to aid in the removal process which may take some months to complete.

Contrary to what was reported earlier, the Voice did receive the city hall memo regarding traffic closures and apologizes for the mistake. Drivers should expect traffic delays and road closures on Young Rd. and Princess Ave. over the next few months. Pedestrian traffic is closed on the east sidewalk of that block.

The following is a City hall press release dated August 23 2010

The demolition of the old Empress Hotel site at 9260 Young Road will begin this week and is expected to be fully complete by December, 2010. The work includes hazardous materials removal and demolition of the entire structure.

The work will begin with the abatement of hazardous material work and will overlap with the demolition process which is scheduled to begin in September. During the demolition work, the sidewalks around the site on Young Road and Princess Avenue will be closed. Temporary lane closures on Young Road and Princess Avenue will also be required. To avoid traffic delays, information updates regarding lane closures will be available on 98.3 Star FM and 89.5 The Hawk radio stations.


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