University becomes landlord
By Becky Somerville
The house at 33 Tower Lane has new tenants and a new landlord after Western took ownership of the property this spring.
The university purchased the property, which is the house most affected by the building of the new residence on University Drive, when owners Ralph Sweitzer and Donald Barham approached administration shortly after the site for the new student residence was announced.
Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration, explained the plan, as approved by the Board of Governors, was to purchase the property with the understanding they would sell it once the construction was complete.
According to records at the Land Registry Office for the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations, the property was purchased by Western's Board of Governors for $240,000. It was purchased by its previous owners for $182,500 in December of 1995.
While Mercer would not comment on the rental price or terms of the lease for the property, he said it had been leased to a Western staff member at a competitive, yet reasonable market rate.
"We didn't have trouble renting it," he said. "I'd assume we won't have trouble selling it."
Jay Casselman, next-door neighbour of 33 Tower Lane, said he was concerned with the proximity of the property to the new student residence. In early spring he speculated the house may have been rented to rowdy students.
"There is a lot of bitterness on the street about this issue. Things are deteriorating quickly," he said.
The new tenant at 33 Tower Lane, Terry Lavender, a communications specialist at Western, said he entered into a lease agreement with the university on June 1. He did not seem to share Casselman's disillusionment.
"We knew exactly what we were getting into when we rented the place," he said.
Casselman said the situation was fine for the moment and the new neighbours were perfectly decent, friendly people.
"I'm concerned about what's happening after they leave," he said. "Another problem is what 33 Tower Lane will look like once [construction] is over."
Casselman remained cynical about Western after being kept in the dark from the beginning about the building of the new residence. "Any reassurance coming out of Western now will be treated with a dose of skepticism," he said.
Mercer said the fact the property is close to the new residence should not deter potential buyers since residence life doesn't conform to its rowdy reputation any more.
"I don't accept the stereotype of students as uncaring and irresponsible," he said.