The story is made all the more powerful when one recalls the words of developer Shmuel Farhi: "We purchased the building (Capitol Theatre) solely to provide parking . . . ""The Capitol Theatre and Bowles building, once thought to be too derelict to restore, have made majestic comebacks on London's Dundas Street, breathing new life into a block of core buildings between Clarence and Richmond streets that badly need a new draw." - The London Free Press
Actually, he got his parking. After acquiring the property, Farhi razed the theatre. The auditorium is gone.
"Two side-by-side downtown London historic gems that came close to a date with the wrecker's ball have returned to their former glory." - The London Free Press
O.K., we lost the theatre and we lost the foyer but at least we kept the two facades.
Well, the naysayers were proven wrong, right? Well, not completely." . . . these buildings were originally written off, considered too expensive to restore." - Paul Berton, The London Free Press
O.K. The naysayers were right. It was too expensive to restore; they rebuilt it. It is now brand new. It was cheaper."The Bowles used to have a terracotta front, but 80% of the 400 tiles were damaged. The decision was made to change all of it to stone that was meticulously carved. " - The London Free Press
We lost the theatre, the foyer, and the Bowles Building facade is essentially new. It is a new facing in limestone and not antique terracotta. It could be erected anywhere - downtown, uptown, White Oaks Mall.
As The London Free Press tells us, there is "potential in heritage buildings, not simply because they're old (in fact, in spite of it) but because they are unique and interesting . . . "
Now, about that Capitol Theatre front and the missing marquee . . .
Obviously, the truth is if you want the look of your downtown back, go for it. The skills needed to build old-looking stuff, especially facades, are still around; It is just expensive. Shmuel Farhi will tell you that.
Let's stop all the silly irreplaceable jewels stuff. I've heard of art deco, and art nouveau, and Victorian but I have never heard of jewel. You want it? Design it and build it. Have a style, an approach, and adhere to it.
All the fawning talk over heritage buildings that are often the newest construction on the block is silly. You know, if there is one word I would never use for Shmuel Farhi it is fawning. He's pragmatic. And oddly enough, parking lots and all, the city may be better off because of it.
The Palace and the Aeolian Hall owners may agree as they benefited from his pragmatism.