Huron Street's

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Red, blue, and green apartment buildings

Jonas Hrebeniuk

LIVING HERE WOULD MAKE THE CARE BEARS DEPRESSED. These newly-erected apartment buildings near the intersection of Huron and Richmond streets are visually appealing, much like a cesspool or an intoxicated orc.

Student houses deemed “towers of spite” have become new homes for Western students.

Local residents have lodged several complaints against three unsightly buildings at the corner of Huron St. and Audrey Ave.

“[The towers, built by London housing company KAP Holdings Inc.] are not in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood,” Ward Six Councillor Nancy Branscombe said.

Neighbour Jackie Farquar described the three buildings as taller and thinner than nearby houses. The towers are covered in brightly-coloured siding and have no windows facing Huron St.

Kate King Wale, a visual arts student and new resident of the KAP Holdings property, had no comment about the appearance of the buildings, adding everyone needs a place to live.

“I’ve only been here two days,” she said.

“Unfortunately there is nothing the city can take issue with,” Farquar conceded. “[Property owner Arnon] Kaplansky is within his rights.”

Kaplansky originally intended to build two duplexes and two triplexes, each containing five bedrooms, for a total of 50 residents, Branscombe said. These plans were rejected by the Ontario Municipal Board for not fitting with the low-rise, low-density housing in the area.

Instead, KAP Holdings built three, three-story, five-bedroom houses, earning the name “towers of spite” among nearby residents. Requests to build a fourth tower were quashed by the OMB in July.

Branscombe maintains Kaplansky had no intention of upholding community standards.

Kaplansky could not be reached for comment.

The University Students’ Council has written a letter to the City of London opposing further developments on the property, VP-university affairs David Simmonds confirmed.

“The USC supports the integration of communities in a positive way,” Simmonds said. “Student housing should respect the integrity and heritage of the neighbourhood.”

“Students renting houses is not a problem,” Farquar agreed. “It’s the intensification that becomes an issue.”

Next-door neighbour Jeremy Van Walsh, a third-year electrical engineering student, admitted the buildings are an eyesore, but said student renters are less likely to care.

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