Green development beside allsaints

Betsy Mann

Seven years after changing from All Saints Anglican Church to allsaints event space, the building at the corner of Chapel and Laurier is gearing up for the next stage in its 123-year history. “I’m really excited at what’s coming next,” says Leanne Moussa, president of All Saints Developments Inc. “I feel that we’re moving forward with the vision that the original, founding community investors had for this property: to preserve the heritage architecture and create a vibrant community hub.”

So what is this next stage? While the exterior of the former church is classed as heritage, the attached building known as Bate Hall is not. From the time of purchase, the plan has always been to replace that construction with a development that would provide the funds to restore and maintain the former church building as a centre for creating community. The sale of the Bate Hall side to Windmill Developments is now conditionally approved; formally severing the property is all that remains. “I just have some work to do,” laughs Moussa.

The fact that “some work” includes complex jobs like relocating the boiler from the Bate Hall building to the allsaints side doesn’t dampen this energetic woman’s enthusiasm for the tasks that lie ahead. “I feel really good about our partnership with Windmill,” she explains. “They have experience in church redevelopments and a reputation as a ‘green’ developer. I feel their plans will be in keeping with the community vision that has guided us so far.”

What Windmill plans to build is a nine-storey condominium structure with the same set backs that were in the original drawings for the site. It will be built right against the church building; the exterior wall of the church on the south side will be the interior wall of the new building. Moussa’s attitude is positive: “My dealings with Windmill have given me confidence that what they build will contribute to the neighbourhood’s fabric,” she says.

The change in ownership means that notice has already been given to Verve Moderns to vacate Bate Hall. The mid-century modern and vintage store that has occupied the space for the last four years will be closing its showroom at the location early in January. That doesn’t mean construction will start soon. “Don’t expect shovels in the ground for a while,” Moussa explains, “but what really excites me is that already this sale gives us the means to do things here that we’ve wanted to do for a long time. People will see some changes. We can start some necessary restoration work on the building and also become a more effective business,” she adds. Moussa cites the bakery as an example of a staple service for a walkable neighbourhood. “We offer an artisan product that doesn’t break the bank.”

As the project at allsaints event space moves into its next phase, Moussa wants to pay tribute to the community investors who stepped up to the plate when the neighbourhood’s heritage gem might have been the victim of demolition by neglect. “They were critical to getting this off the ground,” she insists. “I had the desire, but I didn’t have the resources or the community goodwill. They can be proud of how they have shaped the vision that we are now working to make real.” Keep your eye on this space!

At the end of November, shoppers were still browsing for vintage and mid-century modern finds in Bate Hall, next to allsaints event space. With the building sold to Windmill Developments, Verve Moderns will be closing their showroom there by the new year. Check their Facebook and Instagram pages for information about days and hours of opening between now and then. It may be your last chance to see the room that was home to so many community activities for over 80 years.
Photo Betsy Mann