Posts tagged ‘Downtown’

Old Post Office to Become New Library Multi-Use Building

If you believe that Emily the ghost haunts the Old Galt Post Office, she is about to get a lot more company as city council approved the purchase of the building Monday night.

In putting the motion forward, Coun. Pam Wolf called the vacant landmark one of the finest examples of architecture in Cambridge.

“It’s fitting the city becomes its owner.”

The city plans to pay the $950,000 purchase price from the city’s industrial land reserve fund and then turn the vacant building into a library.

In an interview, chief librarian Greg Hayton said plans had been in place to expand the Queen’s Square Library in 2014. However, those plans were pushed back to 2016 due to budget considerations. In addition, land would have had to be expropriated. Funding will be used at the old post office.

In passing the motion, council has also directed staff to put funds into the 2013 operating and capital budget for consideration during next year’s budget process so the building can be temporarily mothballed.

Hayton said the planned expansion would have added up to 14,000 square feet to the Queen’s Square branch, which is roughly the same size as the old post office.

The building was built in 1885 as the Galt Customs House and Post Office. It was designed by Thomas Fuller, who was also responsible for design of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.

Hayton said preliminary plans for the building includes a teen-oriented library on the first floor of the building, along with a small restaurant – which will be operated by the building’s current owners, the company which owns the Cambridge Mill restaurant.

The second floor of the building is earmarked to become a family-oriented library, while the third floor will be a digital lab, Hayton said.

“We’ll have further developed the plans by the time it goes to budget,” said Hayton.

Renovations for interior and exterior work is estimated at $6 million – higher than the $5.4 million currently identified for expansion at Queen’s Square Library branch.

However, in addition to city funding, Mayor Doug Craig said the project’s public/private partnership has a good chance of receiving grants from the provincial and federal government.

As for Emily the ghost?

“I’m sure we have a library card on file for her someplace,” said Hayton.



October 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment

London: “We need to have pilot projects up and running. We want to be leaders, not followers.”

The city is moving ahead as quickly as possible to get a solar panel pilot project started on public buildings.

The city’s investment and economic prosperity committee will on Monday ask an outside company, Ameresco Canada, to put together a plan that will give green energy companies a framework to bid on solar panel projects.

In July, London-based solar energy company German Solar Corp. told the committee they were ready to mount panels on 10 city rooftops as part of a pilot project.

The project would create 337 jobs in eight years, 219 skilled-labour jobs and 108 operations and maintenance positions in 20 years, the company president predicted.

Another 1,200 jobs would be created indirectly, the company said.

“We’ve had two or three companies that are interested in putting panels on public property,” said Joe Swan, chair of the investment and economic prosperity committee.

“We need to come up with a licensing fee to lease the space, figure out the cost of installation and the return on investment.

“The marketplace is ready to implement these and the city hasn’t developed a framework.”

Ameresco Canada will develop the framework so the project gets off the ground, Swan said.

“This got support from council to move as quickly as possible,” Swan said.

“We need to have pilot projects up and running. We want to be leaders, not followers, in this.”

Source: The London Free Press

September 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm Leave a comment

Rediscovering Dickson Street

These days there are few if any stores available on Dickson Street, as more businesses flock to the Galt core.

Ben Schmalz and Emily Pederson are the latest entrepreneurs to establish themselves on Dickson, opening One Rebellion just last week. It’s an upscale clothing store catering to people over the age of 30.

“We’ve had so much traffic this week and people are so happy to see the store because there is nothing else quite like it down here,” said manager Pederson.

“We grew up in Galt, and I was looking to expand the business,” said Schmalz, who also operates a store in Dundas. “I took a look around and I was impressed with the revitalization that’s taking place in downtown. I loved the architecture and the ambiance. It was the perfect fit for us.”

Merryn Edgar, Patricia Cooley and Jennifer Gralec all opened their businesses the same day two years ago and became known as the “Dickson chicks”, following a television story on their enterprises.

Edgar runs Gallery M, an art shop that features works of many local artists.

“We’ve been doing really well since we opened and today I just sold two paintings, so it’s a big day for us,” she said.

In each area of the shop, Edgar has worked to bring together pieces of art that complement each other. In a similar way, she said each of the new businesses on Dickson Street does the same thing.

“There is a good mix of businesses down here. We do a lot of cross promoting and a lot of scratching each others’ backs when we can,” she said.

When Jennifer Gralec returned to work after having children, she decided that if she had to be away from her girls it would be to do something she loved. Baking is her passion and Tiny Cakes, her baking boutique, is a labour of love.

Since opening in December 2010, Tiny Cakes has become a regular stop for many people working on Dickson Street.

Gralec, like many of the other new businesses on Dickson Street, has used social media to get the word out on their businesses.

“I religiously post on Facebook, so people know what’s going on.”

Re New owner Patricia Cooley knew she had the right place when she walked into the office.

“This is a great space and with that big front window, it just called to me,” she said.

Re New is a medical laser and skin care aesthetics business, operating on the second floor of 65 Dickson St., across from city hall.

When Edit Kasza decided to move from St. Catharines and open her new business, she looked no further than Cambridge.

“I came for a visit and I absolutely love it here, especially Galt. I love all the architecture. It’s like a tiny, tiny version of Budapest.”

Kasza opened Edit Design Inc. in November and says the outdoor/indoor kitchen studio is slowly getting going.

“It’s taken time, but people are discovering I’m here,” she said. “You really have to see my studio to understand what I do.”

Eighty per cent of her business comes from outside of Cambridge, so her studio is becoming a destination for clients.

Baldeep Duggal can say the same thing of Phildon Pens.

“We’re one of a handful of pen shops in the country. We have local clients, but we are a destination for people who love pens and paper.”

Phildon Pens has been on Dickson Street for four years and Duggal sees a difference with the new businesses arriving.

“They are all small business owners who all  have good business plans. They all try to offer unique products and good services. When you have small businesses there is a certain sense of pride that you don’t see in big box stores.”

Decorators Kim Turner and Michelle Jones, who met at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts, opened The Relique Studio on Dickson Street. After teaming up to refinish a dining room suite, the pair went for coffee at Tiny Cakes and their concept of opening a shop evolved.

“As we were talking we were watching people come into the shop and realized these people could all be our customers. That’s when we started looking for a shop,” Jones said.

The shop opened eight months ago and there is no lack of business.

Bill Schwarz has been practicing law and painting in the Galt core since 1969.

“We used to have our law office on Dickson Street and things are really changing. I think the work that David (Gibson) is doing on Main Street has brought a lot of attention to the downtown.

“I think we’ve seen more change in the last 18 months than we’ve seen in the last 40 years. It’s really great to see.”

Source: The Cambridge Times

September 6, 2012 at 11:18 pm Leave a comment

Revamping A Galt Downtown Heritage Building

Remember the ‘Right House’? Which was then cladded in metal and became a Big V Drugmart, then a Shoppers Drugmart… and it is now being rejuvenated! The makeover is part of a large-scale revitalization project of the Galt core by developer David Gibson.

I can’t wait to see the end result!

September 6, 2012 at 11:12 pm 1 comment

New Development in London’s Downtown

Before a shovel was even in the ground, London’s first downtown commercial development in more than 15 years has already leased much of its space.

City and business leaders Tuesday officially took the wraps off the $10 million, 30,000-square-foot commercial plaza which will go up in the parking lot at Richmond and Carling streets, next to Moxie’s, that will be home to an expanded Shoppers Drug Mart, and an insurance broker moving to the core.

Rocco Tullio, president of Rock Developments in Windsor, is building the new office building and also bought the former Canadian Tire store in Masonville, redeveloping 75,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, a $13 million investment.

The most important thing is the tenants want to be there. Shoppers was a driving force saying they want a new home downtown. The drug store will close its store on Dundas St., just west of Richmond.

“The downtown is the heart, soul and spirit of a city. Getting more residential and commercial development is crucial to the well being of the core,” said Mayor Joe Fontana.

Construction will begin in mid January and be completed by August, with tenants moving in in September.

Source: London Free Press

January 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm Leave a comment

Decorative Crosswalks on King Street

The final push is on to get the revitalized King Street streetscape completed by the end of the construction season. But the $10.9-million project isn’t running out of time. Favorable weather and contractor efficiencies have meant the work west of Gaukel Street was completed faster this year than the first phase was last year.

Crews closed King Street west of Benton Street earlier this week to complete an entrance feature that was bumped last year by tight Oktoberfest timelines. The work will include a decorative paving-stone crosswalk and a concrete roadway similar to the one already in front of city hall.

Construction crews working on streetscape.

That section of King Street will be closed until Labour Day.

Meanwhile, work on the final block of streetscaping continues further down between Water and Francis streets. Crews have finished the sidewalks and trees have been planted. They’re working to install paving stones before the road work is wrapped up. There will be an entrance feature at that end of the street similar to the one going in at King and Benton. That should be finished by the end of September.

The city is considering adding the same decorative crosswalks throughout the redeveloped street, but hasn’t made a decision on that yet. Those can be installed after the final layer of asphalt is down. The plan was to finish the final layer in 2011, but the work has been accelerated. If nothing alters the pace, it could be finished this year.

The street reconstruction is part of a larger push by the city to bring more traffic and business to the core. The city’s façade improvement grant program in the core has already seen 13 storefronts upgraded, with another three underway and eight approved but not yet started. They’re in addition to a number of businesses — Coffee Culture, Laurier Optical, Crabby Joes and Shoppers Drug Mart — which completed similar improvements outside of the program. Other large downtown projects, including the University of Waterloo’s school of pharmacy, Wilfrid Laurier University’s graduate school of social work and a redevelopment of the former Lang Tannery, are also part of the city’s push to revitalize the core.


August 25, 2010 at 5:05 pm Leave a comment

Fanshawe College to Move to London’s Downtown? YES PLEASE!

A downtown Fanshawe College campus could produce greater economic spinoffs than the John Labatt Centre, arguably the highest-profile piece of the city’s core-revitalization efforts. That’s the reaction of Bob Usher, chairperson of Downtown London, to the proposed Fanshawe campus that could become the heart of a potential education and arts district. “I think it’s as important as the JLC, or more so,” Usher, who runs Covent Garden Market, said Tuesday. “This is every day — students and staff and people coming in to participate.” He also added that, “JLC is hit and miss, some days we have it, some days we don’t. You’re not at the whim of ‘what’s the next big rock band (coming in).’ ”

London is working with Fanshawe College on a downtown campus housed in heritage buildings, a plan that’s potentially the final major piece of city hall’s effort to revitalize the core. The proposed plan, which would be rolled out during the next decade with $10 million in city subsidies, is the backbone of a hoped-for education and arts district city officials want to turn into a tourism hub. Because it would cost Fanshawe more to renovate old downtown buildings than to build new structures elsewhere, the city has proposed a subsidy of up to $10 million to help cover those extra costs.

The proposed district, focused on Dundas and Richmond streets, would be bounded by Talbot, Kent, Clarence streets and just of south Dundas St. to Market Lane. “We’re not looking for one big, contiguous block,” said Bernice Hull, the college’s vice-president of administration. “We’re really focusing on the district concept.” Fanshawe, looking for as much as 100,000 sq. ft. for an eventual 1,000 students in a so-called School for Applied and Performance Arts, is interested in underused or empty “heritage-type” buildings to buy and renovate.

Fanshawe now offers its theatre arts program in the former Galleria mall, now CitiPlaza, where its lease lasts another five years, but needs additional space to offer new theatre-related programs. Fanshawe also is eager to partner with professional arts groups, specifically the Grand Theatre and Orchestra London, to create mentoring and other opportunities for its students. The city proposal, heading to council’s board of control Wednesday, would see those Fanshawe spaces also used on nights and weekends for youth-focused arts events, creating a potential tourism magnet.

Personally, I think the district should be bound by Dundas, Wellington, York and Richmond Streets. There are so many derelict and under utilized buildings in this area than for the area they are proposing… Bring some life back to other parts of the downtown!

Source(s): and

February 11, 2010 at 1:11 pm Leave a comment

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