With just 28 days to develop a plan, fans of Turner building rally to support family

Fans of the Turner building on the corner of Richmond Road near the Royal Jubilee Hospital are hoping to help the family that owns the property save it from demolition.

On Friday, supporters set up a Facebook page dedicated to rallying supporters to come up with ideas and money to rehabilitate the landmark building that has fallen into such disrepair that a health and safety inspection called for its demolition.

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Victoria council voted Thursday night to give the Turner family 28 days to file either a demolition permit application or a plan for redevelopment. Because of safety concerns, staff had recommended the owners be given only 14 days to comply with a demolition order, not the usual 30 days.

“Some would describe this as a ‘faint-hope’ clause,” Coun. Chris Coleman said. “If you went with 14 days, you would really be saying, ‘It needs to be demolished now.’ ”

If the city demolishes the property, the owners will foot the bill, Coleman said.

The long and narrow two-storey building was built in the 1940s and for decades was home to Ian’s Jubilee Coffee Shop. It has been vacant for years, and has been eyed for restoration by various people, including a group on Facebook that calls itself Ian’s Jubilee Coffee Shop Fanclub.

In September, a 3.7-metre section of wall fell off the second storey, prompting the city to conduct a health and safety inspection on Oct. 8.

“The inspection revealed that the building has extensive water damage to the interior structure, contains black mould, and due to the age of the building, asbestos is also assumed to be present,” a staff report said.

Members of the fan club have set up a separate Facebook group called Save Ian’s Coffee Shop. One person posted that he was willing to contribute $1,000 to the cause. Members hope to meet and discuss ideas with the Turner family.

The building, assessed at $1.54 million, is one of three in the Jubilee neighbourhood owned by Catherine Caroline Turner. City documents identify Charlotte Turner as the power of attorney. She declined requests for an interview.

Victoria architect Franc D’Ambrosio said he expressed an interest in purchasing the building years ago. “But there were some complications with the estate. It’s one of those things that happens in families and it just got let go. And that’s sad, but it’s a fact of life.”

The Turner building has no real historic value, he said. “It has nostalgic value in memory.”

Architect Alan Lowe said that, when he was mayor of Victoria, the Turners came into his office and talked about what they might be able to do.

“But I never heard from them again,” Lowe said. “We were willing to see how we could help them out. We encouraged them how to revitalize and redevelop the building.”

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