Demolition crews begin process of cleaning up Glebe fire site

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The teardown of the fire damaged building on Bank Street and Fifth Avenue started Tuesday JEAN LEVAC / OTTAWA CITIZEN


Vito Pilieci, Ottawa Citizen

Demolition crews have begun work at the scene of a massive fire in April at Bank Street and Fifth Avenue in the Glebe as a first step to restore business and pedestrian traffic at the popular corner.

In April, residents of the area were rocked at around 11 p.m. by an explosion at the six-store corner plaza.

Fire crews finally brought the blaze under control at around 4:30 a.m., but not before it had gutted a stretch of businesses that included a Mac's Convenience store, a Silver Scissors hair salon, Brown's Dry Cleaners, Beaver's Mug coffee shop, Pizza Hut and the recently opened Encino Taco Shop.

The fire was deemed to be arson and police said the investigation is ongoing. An official damage estimate was never revealed, but it's expected to be in the millions of dollars.

One of the plaza's owners, George Halal, said clearing away the remains of the old building is only the first step in the process of rebuilding. He said he is still negotiating with his insurance providers over the settlement.

He is also in talks with construction firms to rebuild and bring back at least six shops to the site. He said he has been called by numerous businesses that are interested in moving into the Glebe and doesn't expect it to be hard to lease the space.

However, while he would like things to move along quickly, he still needs a site plan and city approval to start construction.

"We're working on it," said Halal. "We'd like it to be exactly the way that it was. Right now we are working on getting the retail back up and running."

Halal said other plans to expand the building, which could include condominiums or rental units, remain on the table, but he said his first priority is to see retailers return.