JENNIFER BIEMAN | LONDON FREE PRESS | www.lfpress.com
Downtown Restoration: Owner of former Bud Gowan Antiques, Joh Fyfe-Millar, hopes to move his family into an apartment on the second floor of the more than century-old site.
A proposed major facelift for a long-time downtown London landmark could be under way in September.
John Fyfe-Millar, who owns the former Bud Gowan Antiques building on Clarence St., said Monday he hopes to submit plans to the city by month’s end to turn the building into a wine bar, retail space and two-storey apartment.
He put the cost of the project at about $1 million.
“I would like to think that if everything is good we’ll be starting on the building come September. What we will do is renovate the building from the top down,” he said Monday.
If his plans are approved and he’s able to begin construction, Fyfe-Millar said, his family will move into the completed apartment in the top two floors in the spring — something they’ve wanted to do since buying the building in 2012.
“My wife wanted to live downtown and, given the choice, I really didn’t want to live in a highrise,” said Fyfe-Millar, who said the renovations will strike a balance between making the space their own and maintaining the building’s antique charm.
From there, Fyfe-Millar said, he’ll complete renovations on the retail space, which has been rented already.
Fyfe-Millar said he’s looking ahead to a fall 2015 opening date for a wine bar planned for the building’s first floor and basement. “We’re hoping that we’re going to be able to partner with somebody in that space to put something together,” he said.
Fyfe-Millar said preserving the historic building is a big priority. His goal is to renovate the property without losing the charm of the century-old architecture.
“Once we’re done, when people drive past they’re going to go, ‘I just can’t figure out what they did to that building,’ ” he said. “We want the building basically to look pretty much the same when we’re done as it looks now.”
Last summer, Fyfe-Millar removed 36,000 kgs of materials to prepare for renovations.
“A lot of what went out of the building went to green restoration,” said Fyfe-Millar, who noted glass and other reusable materials didn’t end up in the landfill.
But the 12,500-sq.-ft. building has not been stripped of all artifacts. Fyfe-Millar plans to repurpose several leaded glass panes, antique doors, cabinetry and crown moulding he’s salvaged from the original building.
“We’ve kept those to reintegrate them back when it’s restored.”
Built in 1892, the site was a manufacturing facility for the Featherbone Corset Company. It was purchased by Bud Gowan, who opened a men’s clothing store in 1971. It later became Bud Gowan Antiques in the 1990s until it was sold to Fyfe-Millar in 2012 when Gowan retired.