LETHBRIDGE: A recent structural analysis has prompted the owner of the Bow On Tong and Manie Opera Society Building, located on 2nd Avenue South in Chinatown, to close both and temporarily move out.
This past spring a neighbouring property owner contacted the Lethbridge Main Street Project, stating that they noticed a large vertical crack in a wall and that it appeared to be growing, while the back part of the building seemed to be sagging.
The assessment that followed concluded that for health and safety reasons, both buildings were no longer safe to live in, however if action was taken quickly they could be saved.
Downtown Revitalization Manager George Kuhl noted that the Lethbridge Main Street Project is providing emergency help for the owner, including a new place to live, as he's called the Bow On Tong home for his entire life. He explained that they're working with a technical team that includes engineers and a restoration contractor, to provide a short-term structural reinforcement, "Once the building is stabilized, a more thorough assessment can be obtained to determine what work would need to be done to restore the building. Our aim is try and restore the building, they're valuable historic resources to the downtown, they're very old buildings, 1907 for the Manie and 1919 for the Bow On Tong."
Kuhl added that while the buildings have been identified in the heritage survey conducted by the city, they are not designated historic buildings at this time. He continued that they will push to gain the designation for both structures, as it would make them eligible for provincial support.
As of right now they don't believe there's a risk to neighbouring buildings, however Kuhl noted that they will keep a close eye on the situation.
Architect Robert Hirano commented that the other buildings along that block are also in need of some work, but that as of right now the situation is not as bad. When asked how urgent the situation is for the Bow On Tong and Manie Opera Society buildings, Hirano stated that it was likely urgent 10-years ago.
While Hirano wasn't able to provide an estimate on what the stabilization and restoration would cost, he did agree that it would likely run over $100,000.