Viterra seeking tax break for restoration project

Viterra has asked the City of Regina to help pay for a $4.6 million heritage restoration of the former Saskatchewan Wheat Pool head office.

City council will decide at a Jan. 26 meeting whether it will contribute $2 million through a 10-year property tax break under its Heritage Building Rehabilitation Program.

The program offers the lesser of the tax break or half of eligible restoration costs.

Viterra declined to comment until after council decides.

However, a report filed by Jessica Gibson, designer at the architectural firm hired to develop the restoration plan, said the building at the corner of Albert Street and Victoria Avenue was built in 1913 for $350,000 as the C.W. Sherwood Department Store.

The department store closed in 1916 and the building then sat vacant until Sask Pool bought it in 1925.

It was home to other businesses over the years, including several automobile dealerships, Bank of Montreal, the federal natural resources department and even a Sask Pool cigar stand at one point, the report noted.

It was designated a municipal heritage property in 1983 because it is the last remaining department store building that was built before the First World War in the downtown area.

However, it has also been subject to several renovations and the effects of time and weather.

“The work will involve the conservation of the terracotta components, the exterior brick face, the cast iron spandrel panels and main floor and upper storey windows,” said a report to council from the finance and administration committee.

“In addition, a virtual air-vapour barrier system will be installed to preserve the terracotta façade and prevent further degradation of the wall system due to moisture penetration.”

The architectural report said the glazed terracotta and decorative gargoyles on the building are unique to Regina.

It has heritage value for those details as well as the overall design.

“Designed in the Gothic Revival style, with Chicago School influences, the building features an elaborate brick, ornamental iron and glass façade, highlighted by sculptured pilasters, coloured tiles and intricately formed gargoyles made from glazed terra cotta,” said Gibson’s report.

“Reflecting the pre-war optimism which abounded in Western Canada, the building was designed to accommodate extra floors, which were never completed.”

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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