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Lots sit empty as projects remain idle

The Canadian Tire store that developers hoped to open in time for last Christmas won’t be ready this yuletide season either. Nor for the foreseeable future, as the property adjacent to the Foodland grocery store apparently remains in limbo.

And it’s not the only project behind schedule in Elmira. Blame it on the economy, the planning process or the cosmos, but you can add the EDPRO propane centre and an expanded downtown gas bar and convenience store to the list.

Even inquiries for industrial and commercial land have slowed down, not surprising perhaps given the recession.

A vacant 8.5-acre parcel in Elmira’s south end remains the most visible of the delayed projects. Financial difficulties have brought to a halt plans by developer Forecast Inc. to introduce new retail outlets at the site, including a planned new-format 35,000-square-foot Canadian Tire store at the Arthur Street location.

FUTURE TENSE Land at the South Field business park, the former Glenoit property and the site where the Steddick Hotel once stood remains vacant despite development proposals on the books.
FUTURE TENSE Land at the South Field business park, the former Glenoit property and the site where the Steddick Hotel once stood remains vacant despite development proposals on the books.

The format, smaller than the megastores the company has been building in urban areas, is a new prototype aimed at moving into smaller markets. The store would likely be the anchor for the site, known as Elmira Market Village, including a gas bar and convenience store.

While the project remains on the books, the township has had no contact with the developer for a few months. Phones go unanswered at the Concord, Ont. offices.
Canadian Tire is still pursing the location, however.

“Elmira is still definitely a market of interest for Canadian Tire and we are working to finalize agreements so we can bring a Canadian Tire store to the site,” said company spokesperson Lisa Gibson.

John Scarfone, Woolwich’s manager of planning, said he understands development may go ahead pending resolution of legal issues involving ownership of the land.

Downtown, redevelopment of the former Steddick Hotel site will wait until next spring at the earliest.

Property owner Becker Milk Company demolished the building last summer, but remains in negotiations with tenant Mac’s convenience store about moving the existing store and gas bar to the now-vacant site. Company representative Pat Gudgeon said he expects an agreement before the end of the year, clearing the way for construction next spring.

Plans call for a 3,500-square-foot building on the site of the old hotel, providing far more space than the current 1,400 sq. ft. Mac’s building. The Subway restaurant will have more room, and the current gas bar will be moved slightly to the north.

On Howard Avenue, the former Glenoit site is also undergoing some changes.

A portion of the site fronting on Union Street and Oriole Parkway has been earmarked for London, Ont.-based EDPRO, which plans to build a propane distribution facility. The company had hoped to be open last summer, but a combination of industry approvals and concerns about drainage on the land has pushed back the timeline.

Dennis Martin of Elmira Industrial Land Inc., which owns the site, said he expects the company to be operating by next June or July.

“You won’t be seeing any construction until next spring now,” said Martin.

EDPRO Elmira will concentrate primarily on filling 33-pound cylinders for the forklift market, and filling bulk trucks destined for the residential agricultural markets.

EIL is also preparing other light industrial lots at that location. The major hurdle remains a drainage ditch that runs through the property, raising concerns from the Grand River Conservation Authority.  In severing out the lots, EIL agreed to turn over a portion of the land to Woolwich Township, which will maintain the drainage creek on access roads to be built by the company.

“We have the location of what they’re conveying to us,” said Scarfone, noting the development’s site plan is now under review.

The only construction now underway on the affected lands is the new home of Leroy’s Auto Care on Oriole Parkway.

Overall, Martin said, the pace has slowed for industrial development, including at EIL’s South Field business park. Where the company had been looking at an automotive parts manufacturer – something to complement the Toyota Boshoku Corp. (formerly Trim Masters Inc.) plant on South Field Drive – that strategy has changed because of the upheaval in the industry.

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