I Used To Live Here

 

photo-11

photo-8

More than one year after its tenants were evicted, the Crescent Apartments have finally come down. And I, for one, am glad. I used to live there. When my husband and I were evicted over a year ago, I was furious. At the time, Regina had a vacancy rate of 0.6 per cent – and the City was approving the demolition of a building housing 12 families (the vacancy rate is still below one per cent). Now that it’s down, I can stop feeling steam coming out of my ears every time I pass through that area, knowing that there are huge, beautiful two and three bedroom apartments sitting empty. I suppose others must be breathing a sigh of relief too. With the city’s housing summit only a few weeks away, an empty building full of spacious apartments sure would look bad.

Shortly after receiving our notices, my neighbours and I would often exchange rumours we’d heard about the landlord’s plans. Some were convinced it was coming down for parking – not a crazy theory given that’s exactly what is becoming of the landlord’s other property, the Black Building, at 1755 Hamilton St. That building housed 46 families. The parking lot theory was also not crazy because the General Hospital, just next door, is renowned across the city for being a tough place to find a parking spot. But these were people’s homes. And they were beautiful. Yeah, they’d seen better days, but the bones of the place were great. The Crescents was built in 1912, and was even on the heritage holding bylaw list (until it was taken off so the landlord could apply to demolish it). All of the apartments had at least some – if not all – of their original features; oak trim, mantle pieces, cornices, and glass lighting fixtures. Surely the landlords had something else in mind. I wondered if they might be thinking of turning the place over to refurbished, retrofitted luxury condos once they’d turfed everyone out. They might have made a killing off that. That’s what would happen in other cities, anyway. Of course, I should have known they didn’t have that kind of imagination. When I went by the other day and took these pictures, I could make out the old iron radiators, and at least one mantle piece left on the main floor, barely visible through the rubble. I guess no one was told that they could take these things out and sell them in other provinces where people actually value that kind of thing.

As you can probably tell, I’m still angry. I can’t complain for myself anymore, though. My husband and I landed very comfortably on our feet, and we now own a nice little house that I love. We even have a garden (at least we did the last time I checked, before all this snow arrived). But that’s not really the point. Some of our neighbours didn’t land as comfortably as we did, and either had to move to parts of the city they never wanted to be in, or to other apartments at twice the price and with half the space. And, because they live in a province without rent control, they never know how much the rent will rise. It’s a stressful situation that a lot of people in this province are forced to live with.

Goodbye, Crescent Apartments. I’m told you housed half the arts community in this town at some point or other. You were a great old building, and probably could have lasted another hundred years if you’d been treated right. The wreckage of your former walls now lays as a monument to apathy and neglect, like the ghosts of so many buildings in this city that have gone before you.

Author: Wanda Schmöckel

Wanda Schmockel is just trying to get by without shoving.

You may follow her on twitter @vschmo

15 thoughts on “I Used To Live Here”

  1. Another failure of capitalism. I was thinking the other day about how much money The Plains hasn’t made during its death-time. Behind my place two huge heritage houses were snapped up by a local landlord and they’ve been empty for at least three years. I’m sure all these commercial property owners know what they’re doing.

  2. That’s okay, James. In the end, I think Doritos mean more to Regina than either affordable housing or heritage architecture could ever hope to.

  3. I read a job ad once for a local firm looking for people to help strip buildings of its valuables before demolition; can’t believe this guy was too ignorant to at least allow that, or he probably asked too much money.

  4. I for one have far too many memories about this building that are better left as just that. The eviction was an awful time. The wreckage, and now non existence is closure for me for a place I can be happy knowing I was fourtunate to have lived in.

  5. It’s of little solace to anyone, but I think I saw them attempting to save the tyndall stone window sills.

  6. When I was a bit younger, and lived in that neighbourhood, a buddy of mine used to enjoy walking around near the hospital and we used to love the courtyard/ fire escape aesthetic the crescent apartments had at night. In the rain, it made it seem like another city, to us, even another world.

  7. Not that I think it was purposeful, but I’d be careful in calling the Mayor’s Housing Summit the ‘Affordable Housing Summit’ as you did above. The Comprehensive Strategy that they are currently discussing at the Ramada doesn’t give me much hope that the affordable housing side of it all is being properly considered. But maybe that’s just me.

    Sorry about your apartment.

  8. Sentimentality & Nostalgia are dirty words in the New Saskatchewan. Get on board, your moments and venues of personal reflection are long gone. Buy, consume, fart.

  9. This makes me sad. I lived in three different apartments in those buildings and loved every single one.

  10. @Nik, Thanks for pointing that out. I actually added the word “affordable” after my first pass, and I don’t know why (wishful thinking? A desire to give more credit than is due?). Anyway, you’re absolutely right – it isn’t an affordable housing summit per se. Which is really too bad, because that’s kind of where the crisis is. I’m sure developers already know where and when to build-market rate housing on their own. As does the mayor.

  11. @Ron – You mean like a cornerstone with the date etched on it? I don’t know if that was saved or left in the rubble. It would make a sad souvenir.

Comments are closed.