A controversial Halifax developer gets to have his “Wedding Cake” – and eat it too – at the doorstep of Halifax’s most prestigious neighbourhood: Young Avenue.
In late April, developer George Tsimiklin applied for a permit to tear down the avenue’s historic Cleveland estate – better known as “The Wedding Cake House.”
Despite explosive opposition by the neighbourhood’s “movers and shakers,” less than three weeks later it was gone.
“It seems like this whole block is gonna be chopped up,” a neighbour said bitterly as he glanced at the gaping wound of the demolition site.
But the deflated spirit of the community is little more than collateral damage as Tsimiklis’ development empire charters new frontiers.
A FAMILY LEGACY
Following in the footsteps of his late father, Tsimiklis has cultivated a strong presence in the business community.
Since 1994, Tsimiklis has accumulated over 30 properties, peppered throughout the HRM.
(You can see the properties by clicking on the red dots on the map below)
Source: Property Online, Nova Scotia
Their combined valued is more than $28.7 million.
The majority of his businesses are concentrated in Dartmouth, but this year Tsimiklis made a decisive – albeit unwelcome – move into Halifax’s deep South End.
Tsimiklis’ presence across the coast may be impressive, but his record as a landlord isn’t.
He has also been flagged by regional council for failing to comply with city Bylaws.
When he set his sights on 851 Young Avenue, he added one more influential enemy to his list.
“SAVE YOUNG AVENUE”
Alan North, an architect who lives two doors down from the contentious property, co-founded “Save Young Avenue;” the Facebook group in resistance to the developer’s plans.
Its leading strategy was to petition the Heritage Advisory Committee to designate heritage status to the historic estate. But only one address on Young Avenue is on the registry – and 851 Young Ave didn’t make the cut.
David Hendsbee, committee member and District 2 councillor, said that since the previous owner of “the Wedding Cake House” didn’t register the property as a heritage site, the “current owner can do what he wishes.”
The building that had survived a century of change finally crumbled, survived by nothing more than an empty lot and a barbed-wire fence.
THE FIGHT CONTINUES
Even though the “Wedding Cake house” is gone, North warns that the developer still plans to replace it with “tract-style houses on narrow 40 foot lots.”
This threatens the “historically wide properties [,] designed to complement and enhance […] Young Avenue as the main entrance to Point Pleasant Park,” he said in a petition to change the city’s Bylaws.
314 people have signed it, but North still has 185 signatures left to go.
MORE TO COME…
Although he continues to fight for his neighbourhood, North will soon be fighting for his neighbouring house as well.
On the same day Tsimiklis purchased 851, he claimed the adjacent property, 825 Young Ave.
The city approved its demolition permit last month.
Tsimiklis is vacationing in Greece until September and was not available to comment. His lawyer, Michael Moore, said out of an “ethical consideration” to his client, he would not speak for him.