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Stalled Somerset House reno a ‘disgrace,’ Mayor Watson says

April 25, 2018
Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen

The questionable stability of a stone wall in the historic Somerset House is the latest redevelopment challenge at the beat-up downtown building as Mayor Jim Watson stews over the lack of progress.

“I’ve certainly let (the owner) know my displeasure that it’s basically a dump right now. You’ve got the excavation at the back and the windows are shattered on the front and there’s posters put up on the wood casings,” Watson said Wednesday at city hall, answering questions on heritage-related topics when Somerset House came up.

“I don’t know how this guy holds his head up high living in this city with this massive eyesore that he’s really done nothing on and he really keeps dragging us down these paths that there’s never a conclusion. I’m hoping that he’s found a tenant and I’m hoping he’s got his act together because this thing has been an eyesore for a long time and it’s really a disgrace.”

Council approved an updated restoration plan for Somerset House, at Somerset and Bank streets, on May 10, 2017. Looking from outside of the building, there doesn’t appear to be any work happening.

Tony Shahrasebi, the property owner, said his architect and engineers are working on a new challenge in the basement of the building. The old stone wall along Somerset Street needs to be supported since there’s gravel fill under the road that could impact work on the wall, according to Shahrasebi. He said his construction team will be submitting drawings to the city for approval.

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