The Doornekamp family, after having a proposal to enter an office partnership with city council rejected, have reportedly decided to independently buy the building and transform it into a commercial and office center.
Construction and renovations on the 19th century building is set to begin next month.
The Doornekamp company, ABNA Investments Ltd., will spend approximately $16 million on the project and Nate Doornekamp has expressed hope it will help “jump start the downtown” business district.
The Plans includes restaurants, an outside patio, and retail space on the ground floor with the upper three stories will be converted into offices for rent with a garden on the roof.
Real estate broker Martin Skolnick of DTZ Barnicke, a partner in the development, will deal with the office leasing which is scheduled to be available by the middle of 2011.
While there are risks with this investment – evident by city government’s failure to join the venture – Doornekamp has shown success in a similar effort when they restored the run down Woolen Mill nearby into a prestigious commercial development.
“I think that demonstrates a great deal of confidence in this community,” said mayor Harvey Rosen. “We can look forward to an active corner at Princess and Ontario Streets in the not too distant future.”
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Councillors said the restoration price was too rich, and the timing wasn’t right, to create more elbow room for the municipal bureaucracy. Family business patriarch Hank Doornekamp left city hall fuming that councillors would not hear him explain details of the partnership that they had earlier rejected on a tie vote. Now, he’s decided to forge ahead on his own.
With the guaranteed money of a city office deal out of the picture, it may be a risky venture for the Doornekamp’s.
“We did a lot of soul searching about the potential risks and challenges, but we have confidence in the market, were recently able to develop new leads on potential tenants, and found ways to restructure the deal to make this project possible,” said Hank Doornekamp in a statement.
Councillors noted Doornekamp restored the once-derelict Woolen Mill into a prestige commercial development and expressed confidence he will do the same with the old S&R building.
“He has experience renovating historical buildings. It seems like a win-win situation,” said Coun. Rob Hutchison.