Days are numbered for Westmount mansion

Posted by on Friday, November 13th, 2015 at 11:19am.

When Beljan Developments purchased a huge tract of land next to the Groat Ravine in Westmount, they had some pretty big plans.

The Edmonton-based company planned to sub-divide the property upon which sat the 103-year-old Sylvancroft residence, built for a former mayor and his family.

They also had dreams of converting the historic mansion into condominiums as part of their plan to densify this inner-city piece of land to the north west of downtown Edmonton.

While the large home hasn’t shifted on its foundation much since it was built in 1912, the cost of bringing the structure up to livable standards was deemed prohibitive.  The developer had the home, now sitting on one of nine lots after subdivision took place, up for sale for $1.15 million.  With no buyers willing to spend millions more to make the home inhabitable, which included shoring up the embankment along the ravine, Beljan instead applied to the City of Edmonton to have the home razed for redevelopment.

And recently, council members have reluctantly decided that the city will not oppose the bid to tear down the three-storey home at 12717 Stony Plain Road.

The city could have appealed to the Alberta Land Compensation Board, however that would also have been too expensive and Edmonton taxpayers would be on the hook for at the very least $2 million to purchase and renovate the 8,000 square foot residence and grounds surrounding it.  With no engineer’s report providing information about the stability of the Groat Ravine embankment, the Sylvancroft home could have been a ‘money pit’.

The developer plans instead to put a duplex home on this lot, consistent with the attached homes already built on the other 8 Sylvancroft lots.  A spokesperson for the developer told the Edmonton Journal that the pending demo will cost in the neighbourhood of $40,000.

Beljan snapped up the property out of  bankruptcy proceedings in 2011 and paid $2.5 million.  Once the firm realized the enormous cost of converting it to a multi-family building, it was hoped a buyer would purchase it with the goal of restoring it.

Sylvancroft is a family home development in cooperation with an Edmonton builder.  The development has 10 units in this inner-city tract of land with mature trees.

Beljan has made a commitment to save as many original trees as possible.

Prices range from the high $400s to over a million.

The attached and semi-attached net-zero homes offer ultra-modern design with clean, horizontal lines and large windows to take in as much light as possible and to enjoy the sight of the wooded area along the ravine.

The prime pedestrian-friendly location on Stoney Plain Road, close to the Groat ravine is within walking distance of 124 Street and a future LRT Station.

The Westmount Shopping Centre and Telus World of Science are just west of the community of Westmount.

When Sylvancroft was built in 1912, it was family home virtually on the outskirts of town.  Horses were kept on the property, and every winter a skating rink was built on the grounds.  Many estate homes were built along the Groat Ravine in the years prior to World War I by wealthy and prominent Edmontonians.

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