By John Swartz
Orillia council met in closed session this afternoon to discuss two development proposals for Orillia’s waterfront. The motion in open session was, in part:
“… regarding the selection of a preferred proponent be adopted and that staff be directed to initiate next steps, including engagement of a third party… for negotiation with the preferred proponent.”
Two Developers, FRAM Building Group and TPI submitted proposals. There have been meetings to evaluate them, and a public, online, open house and survey in April which received 175 responses, plus a number of other written comments sent otherwise.
Council did not release the name of the preferred proposal proponent. There are many negotiations still to come, one being the sale of the land to the developer (or some other arrangement).
“It is a very exciting time for the city from an investment standpoint and a development standpoint and I think once we are able to talk about a lot more information with folks I think we’ll have some really great news to share,” counicllor Mason Ainsworth said during the meeting.
The centerpiece of the development area is the 70 Front Street North property. It is the largest of 5 parcels forming the footprint of the development area along Centennial Drive and part of the lower block of Mississaga Street. Council agreed to buy the 70 Front property in 2016.
“Council decided to purchase the property a number of years ago so we had the ability to have more of a say than we normally would, especially in such a strategic area of the city,” said mayor Steve Clarke.
This turning point stems from a 2012 initiative of the council headed by Mayor Angelo Orsi and the Downtown Tomorrow Plan resulted. From that plan the reconstruction of Front Street happened during the last two years and reconstruction work will begin this summer on Centennial Drive (which will have the roadway moved westward). When the development of the land in question today takes place Coldwater Street will be opened through to Centennial. Some areas of the water front parks will also be redeveloped, with some of the work taking place this summer in Couchiching Beach Park.
(Photo by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)