Downtown London’s Grant program establishes Burridge Block as downtown jewel

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The Burridge Block, at Talbot and King streets, has been a London landmark since it was built in 1881, but its most recent history is a prime example of not what the downtown used to be, but what it is growing into.

The Cardoso family purchased the block in 2008 after Dani Cardoso had bought a restaurant in the building and the owners at the time had given him the right of first refusal should they want to sell the property.

When that day came along, the owners gave the Cardoso family 24-hours notice of the sale. Turned out they didn’t quite need the whole day as Dani showed up in an hour ready to make the deal.

It turned out the family’s eagerness came with the reality of a lot of hard work to come.

But the opportunity was one Dani said couldn’t be missed. After all, the property was considered “the number one investment in London,” as it was right across from Budweiser Gardens (John Labatt Centre as it was known at the time) and the Covent Garden Market.

With that kind of enticement, Dani said the purchase just made sense.

However, they also knew their plans needed to be something different than what others were doing in the downtown.

“We wanted to do something, not buy it, tear it down and put up a high-rise,” Dani said. “We’re not one of the big guys, it’s just myself and my dad while my mom and my sister take care of the paperwork, the backend stuff. There were times we ran into bumps and problems and the City was just amazing pushing us through, helping us out.”

Downtown London helped the Cardoso family out in two ways. They brought in the Planning Services team and worked with them to maximize the City’s incentives for these buildings.

They also helped with the AboutFace Façade Improvement Grant, which is a MainStreet London program that provides grant funding for downtown owners to improve their building façades.

Under the rules of the grant program, property owners work with designers and contractors (two quotes are needed for all the work) to get design plans and estimates. Improvements are to be consistent with Downtown Design Guidelines and as approved by Downtown London.

It turned out, Dani and Downtown London were on the exact same page as one contractor discussed simply stuccoing the building.

Dani immediately asked why anyone would want to cover up the building’s historic brickwork. And with that vision in mind, the family had the whole building sandblasted to bring the block back to its original look.

Among those who have benefited from the building’s improvements are Lashbrook Marketing and Public Relations, Fire Roasted Coffee Co., and Race Roster, which moved into the space formerly occupied by Digital Echidna.

“The incentives helped, they helped a lot. This is a family business and anything that helps the bottom line is a big help,” Dani said.

“We aren’t one of the big guys, we do one building every three or four years, so the incentives ,the façade grant, it’s a big help. It gave us that little extra something to put into the building. It’s a great project.”

Erin JohannsonKing & Talbot