The London Children’s Museum may give way to a new residential and office development.
Shmuel Farhi, who owns the building at 21 Wharncliffe Rd., received approval Tuesday from city council’s planning and environment committee to convert the museum into a mixed-use development that could include 58 units in the space that now houses displays and events.
“This is very positive for the neighbourhood, and I look forward to seeing good tenants in that location,” said Coun. Tanya Park, who represents the core.
There isn’t a timeline for when the 2,750-square-metre building will be converted, the committee heard.
A museum spokesperson said it has a multi-year lease deal with Farhi and is still looking for a new home. It doesn’t know when it may have to move out, Jill Osborne said.
“We have a long-term lease agreement with Mr. Farhi and we continue to try find a new home. We cannot foresee what will happen.”
The Children’s Museum “does not have any knowledge” of the proposed development, Osborne said.
Mayor Matt Brown spoke in favour of the redevelopment at the committee meeting.
“It’s great to see this come forward and see the applicant and staff working together to find the solution. It was not easy,” he said. “This is really a gem for London. I’m excited to see what it will end up as.”
The committee approved a motion to rezone the site to accommodate residential and office units. The committee recommendation will go to city council Tuesday for a final decision.
The Wharncliffe Road site was initially developed as Riverview School, which opened May 26, 1916. The school was closed in 1978 because of declining enrolment and the Christian Academy of Western Ontario rented the school for three years.
The building is on the city’s heritage inventory list.
The London Regional Children’s Museum bought the site in July 1981, and moved into the renovated space in September 1982. The property was sold to Farhi in 2014 by the museum to raise capital for a new location.
The city staff report said the proposed uses would be compatible with the surrounding residential area and the busy Wharncliffe Road artery.