The old mill site in Conestogo, which could be redeveloped into an event space, is now up for sale or lease.
After a multi-year process to change the zoning to allow for a commercial space, the owners have now put the properties at 1795 and 1805 Sawmill Rd. back on the market.
The planning report submitted to the township outlines a plan to operate the site as an event venue, but the owners say they never intended to operate the venue themselves.
“The mill is a unique property that we believed if converted to commercial use would benefit the core in Conestogo. The vision was to preserve the unique characteristics of the property, renovate the mill itself, and then partner with folks with a vision for its eventual use,” said Chris Waters, one of the properties’ owners, in an email to The Observer.
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“It was never our intention to run the venue ourselves,” he said. “The pandemic did not change this. It did cause delays, but we are still on course,” he said.
The two properties are being sold together with an asking price of nearly $3.5 million as listed on realtor.ca. Included on the two properties of some 3.5 acres is a 19th century, 3,200 square-foot, three-storey-house, which was last used as an office space, two metal silos, a 13,000-sq.-ft. multi-storey building with a 2,200-sq.ft. below-grade usable space and multiple outbuildings.
The owners’ report submitted to the municipality includes the possibility of two separate event centres, the potential for a distillery in the future, a plan to use the house as an office building, and to convert one of the outbuildings into a chapel, among other features. There were also provisions for storage and parking.
Jeremy Vink, the manager of planning for the township, confirmed the properties are now zoned with site-specific ‘settlement commercial’ (C-3) zoning.
He wrote the staff report about this property, which said in its conclusion, “It is staff’s opinion that the proposed development conforms to the provincial policies and guidelines, regional official plan and the township official plan and is an appropriate and compatible use for the subject property.”
The list of allowed uses at the site include an art gallery, assembly hall, banquet hall, or private club among other uses. The house is allowed to be used as a residence or office. A microbrewery, winery or distillery would require additional permissions.
“We believe that in the right hands with the right operators this could be a destination property that benefits the downtown core of Conestogo that the town would be very proud of. The mill is a very unique property that we would like to see repurposed for everyone to enjoy,” said Waters.
During the public consultation period, neighbours expressed concerns about parking, privacy and traffic, especially because both laneways to the property require slow driving to safely use due to grade or sightlines. One neighbour expressed concerns about traffic congestion and safety issues with oncoming vehicles, buggies or bicycles on Sawmill Road.
The location was previously home to W-S Feed and Supplies, which had operated at the site starting in 1967.