Former township hall to find new life
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Former township hall to find new life

On the eve of its 100th birthday, the former Woolwich township administration building at the corner of Arthur and Wyatt streets in Elmira has a new lease on life. The historic building located at 69 Arthur St. S. has been sold to Juliane Shantz, an Elmira resident and a doctor of audiology who has owned and operated Elmira’s Ear and Hearing Clinic for 15 years.

The building sat empty for nearly four years after township staff moved to their new building on Church Street, and Mayor Todd Cowan is pleased that it was bought by a local business owner.

“I’m impressed, not just because Juliane is local, but also because Juliane has a vision for that building,” he said.

Shantz was unavailable for an interview this week, but said in a press release that she has a “fondness for the former town hall” and that she “looks forward to sharing its familiar, welcoming atmosphere with my patients.”

Built in 1912, the building served as a post office then briefly as a police station. Starting in 1966 it served as township hall and municipal administration building until 2008. Additions have been made to it over the years to increase the amount of space, notably the rear addition in 1985, but the building has always maintained a distinguished presence in downtown Elmira.

That presence was the main selling point that the township and their real estate company Coldwell Banker pushed on this property, starting last fall when the township assembled an advisory task force with the goal of selling the property.
“It’s something that stands out. It’s not just a box on the street,” the mayor said.

In the end Shantz and one other bidder placed an offer on the building, with a third coming close, Cowan said. Real estate laws prohibit the details of the sale to be made public prior to the closing date at the end of June, but the township was asking $625,000 for it.

“When we looked at the tenders we didn’t accept the highest bid for the building,” said Cowan. “We also more or less did a questionnaire to ask what they see with the building and where do they want to go.

“We did the same thing a year ago with the swimming pool. We had two offers on the table, one was to bash it down and put up condos, and the other one was the Waterloo Region synchronized swimming. That offer wasn’t the highest one, but they had the best vision from a community point of view”

Those concerned with how the sale will impact the façade of the building need not be: the original portion of the 11,687 square foot building was designated a historical structure in January of 2010, meaning the clock tower and its original mechanism from 1914 is protected, along with the triangular-shaped gables, the keystones over every window and doorway, along with the square-cut doorways, said Peter Benninger of Coldwell Banker.

“I think it was really important to establish that the person that was going to buy it did have a vision, and did have an interest in keeping it as an historic building,” he said.

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