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Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Connecting Our Communities

Two plans for redevelopment of Maple Street property emerge


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A community newspaper journalist for more than two decades, Steve Kannon is the editor of the Observer.

Currently part of a township parking lot, a half-acre plot of land fronting on Maple Street in Elmira could be home to a new development, perhaps a mix of commercial and residential uses.

In fact, it appears there would be at least two interested parties should Woolwich declare the land surplus and offer it for sale.

Krista McBay, who owns the Home Hardware store immediately adjacent to the parking lot, first approached the township about acquiring the land, with the potential of a swap involving a small parcel she owns behind township administration building site on the other side of Maple Street. Her current plans call for the construction of a six-storey residential building.

At a public meeting Tuesday night that set the stage for the township’s surplus land disposal process, however, councillors heard that another adjacent property owner, Ken Freiburger, has development plans of his own for the property he owns bounded by Arthur, William and Maple streets. The addition of the land now owned by the township would allow more options, said lawyer Rob Sutherland of his client’s plans.

The Freiburger proposal would be part of a higher-density, mixed-use development featuring residential and commercial applications, he said.

“It would be a significant improvement to the Elmira core,” said Sutherland.

Hugh Handy, a planner with the GSP Group  representing McBay, said the location lends itself to a residential development, perhaps including seniors’ housing.

“We believe there is in this block an opportunity to realize greater density and growth,” he said, noting an early concept proposes a 46-unit building at that location.

The irregularly shaped 2,185-square-metre parcel currently provides about 76 parking spaces, the potential loss of which was deemed troubling by Jason McDonald, who operates his chiropractic clinic on Church Street. Facing the loss of on-street parking outside his office – the township and region are proposing to create an extra traffic lane when the Arthur Street intersection is reconstructed – the prospect of even less parking downtown is an issue, he said.

“Losing 76 more spaces would be a big deal for parking.”

Director of planning Mark Pomponi noted the township is looking for additional parking options downtown.

In a later interview, Pomponi said the potential land swap proposed by McBay would provide parking for between 45 and 50 cars.

The process is in the early stages, with this week’s public meeting being the first requirement on the road to a potential sale of what is now municipal land.

Handy noted his client’s project is still in the planning stages, while Sutherland added the Freiburger proposal was slated to come to the township next summer, but could be sped up now that the surplus-property ball is rolling.


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