LARGE AND CO, the owner of this Dunsmuir Road heritage house, has applied for a demolition permit and rezoning to allow for a 9-unit townhouse complex on the 12,400-square-foot lot.
Called Tyn-Y-Coed, the house was commissioned by Hans Price, a clerk at the naval dockyard, and designed by John Tiarks, who later worked with renown architect Francis Rattenbury and served as a Victoria councillor.
Large and Co purchased the property three and a half years ago, intending to restore the house and add density around it. But they told the Times Colonist that proved infeasible due to costs of $800,000 for a “proper restoration.”
Photo of Tyn-Y-Coed from the Dam Report
Esquimalt Council commissioned a report on the state of the house from John Dam and Associates. That report, released last November, concluded: “Considering its age, exposure, and lack of maintenance work, Tyn-Y-Coed is in fair condition. The intact, original detailing of this historic building as well as the people involved with its design and construction, give it value to the Township of Esquimalt.” Intact heritage features include staircases, stained glass windows, parquet flooring, wainscotting and doorways.
The report did state that approximately $280,000 in repairs, mostly to the foundation and roof, were needed.
In December 2020, Esquimalt council directed its staff to continue working with Large and Co to see if a solution could be found that would preserve the house.
The Board of the West Bay Residents Association has written in support of preservation: “Historic homes like Tyn-Y-Coed are important as they provide tangible connections to our past by representing the stories and the events that helped to shape the community. Retaining our historical identity…reinforces our sense of place, our special and unique character that differentiates us from other places. These historic structures are municipal assets and their rehabilitation and adaptive repurposing stand to generate a wide range of social, economic and environmental benefits.”
The Hallmark Society has also come out in favour of saving the house.
The 2021 property assessment on 820 Dunsmuir illustrates some of the confounding obstacles confronting heritage preservation. While the property is currently assessed at just over $1 million, the building is assessed at only $700, despite its fair condition.
An online search shows it was sold for $700,000 in April 2017, so that’s likely the Large and Co purchase price. If council grants demolition and rezoning (from RD-3 to CD Zone) the land value, as well as that of similar properties, will likely increase substantially.
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820 Dunsmuir Street, Esquimalt