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Cleanup starts on the site of the former Belmont Hotel

Owners plan on rebuilding, but exact plans are currently in flux

It has been 14 months since a fire reduced the former Belmont Hotel to rubble also causing severe damage to the adjacent liquor store and the building that used to house Rose’s Oriental Food and Gift shop.

Terry Sawka, co-owner of the Belmont with his wife Susan MacKenzie, said it has been a lot of wrangling for over a year to get to the point of demolition and cleanup.

But with all the investigations wrapped up and the insurance settled, the couple applied for and got their demolition permits from the city on June 14 and last week, the work got underway.

The current intention is to rebuild, Sawka said with a caveat that anything can happen, especially when you look at how interest rates are going, coupled with the cost of construction materials and availability of contractors.

Nevertheless, they want to rebuild, but not necessarily what was there before.

“We definitely won’t have a strip bar, let’s put it this way,” he said. “Those days of bars like that are long gone.”

Instead, he believes there is strong demand for something similar to the Cactus Club, a comfortable, contemporary pub/restaurant chain that serves a global menu.

Before anything like that though, the priority is getting the liquor store back up and running he said.

But before that, even, phase one is cleaning up all the rubble from the hotel building, which was the work being done last week. Then the existing liquor store needs the be demolished. While the building is still standing, it is beyond redemption, so that will have to be demolished as well.

“The insurance people brought in an engineer and they came to the conclusion that it would cost more to repair the building, as opposed to tear it down and build a new one,” Sawka said.

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Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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