By John Swartz
Creative Nomad Studios street facing look is now a reality. Friday morning work crews took down the hoarding obscuring the work being done on the building (and the Swinton building) directly across the street from the Orillia Public Library and the Opera House.
“Up until two days ago there was also screening, so you couldn’t see both floors,” said Anitta Hamming, the owner of the building whose former name she said is official dead. As she watched the hoarding come down, it must have seemed like watching the Eagle slowly descend to the surface of the moon – you knew what the last moment was going to be, but the anticipation was very high.
“Oh my God. Ecstatic,” was how she felt.
Both Creative Nomad and the Swinton building were built to match. Previous renovations of the former department store radically changed the appearance of Creative Nomad, but Hamming is trying to bring back the similarity.
“What we wanted them to do was not necessarily be the same, but we wanted there to be some synchronicity. If you look at the main floor, the lines of the windows, the main horizontal lines carry across both buildings. Same with the windows, we used the same window company.”
There are some differences with the mullions (vertical window supports) between the two buildings, but at first glance they seem the same.
“I wanted a slightly more contemporary look.”
The window installment on the rear of the building was to be finished by the end of the day. At the rear it appears like both building are one by virtue of a second story extending over the walkway from the Sinton building. Here the difference in windows in noticeable.
“The building next door on the back is residential. He wanted windows that opened and an open clean window was more what I was looking for. I don’t need opening windows,” said Hamming.
When asked how long the project has been happening, and how long to go before opening, she was hesitant.
“I’m not sure when we started. It seems like yesterday, but it also seems like 6 months ago. I have to go back and review the first cheque I wrote. Our original timeline was always for November 1st. Now there is an issue we’re having to deal with that’s going to affect our timeline. All the demo inside is done, there are no other surprises. We know everything now. We did have one surprise. I have a meeting next week and we’re going to re-map the time lines and then I’ll know, but there is going to be an adjustment to the timeline,” she said.
The main floor tenant in the Swinton building was on site Friday too. A restaurant, The Common Stove, is going to joining the other eating establishments in the neighbourhood.
“It will be Orillia’s more premium offering with an open wood-fire grill. We focus on vegetables, vegan friendly food, and steak,” said Darcy MacDonell, one of the co-owners, along with Simon MacRae, “a vegan friendly steakhouse.”
He hopes to open as soon as possible.
“Hopefully open to the public in December,” he said.
The main floor layout has been altered from the original proposal building owner Chris Montgomery displayed in May. Instead of two commercial spaces splitting the main floor from front to back, it has been split to create the restaurant across the front and two apartments will be built at the rear.
MacDonell and owns The Farmhouse Tavern in Toronto’s Junction area. Both live in Orillia. MacRea has also been in the restaurant business having been general manager at The Chase and BlueBlood Steak House.
There has been a lot of activity in the downtown core during the summer. Creative Nomad and the Swinton building is not the only one being transformed in the downtown. Recently the exterior cladding of the Geneva Event Centre was stripped away, revealing display case cutouts for the former movie theater, and a two story glass block window. Both of which owner Don Porter will restore. And the building at 33 Mississaga Street East where Becker Shoes is located got a new coat of paint during the past few weeks.
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)