By Doug Hallett
City staff are recommending that the city sell a parking lot to the company that plans to redevelop 55 Delhi St., so it can drop plans to put parking in the building’s front yard.
“We never really wanted parking in the front, because it’s a beautiful, stunning building and shouldn’t have parking there,” Vesterra Canada Inc. president Robert Eilers said Tuesday.
At a rezoning meeting last fall, neighbours of the property and Vesterra officials both urged the city council to let Vesterra buy the parking lot behind 55 Delhi. Family and Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County, which used to lease the century-old building, used to rent the lot from the city for parking purposes.
To council Monday
Next Monday, after discussing a proposed price for the parking lot behind closed doors, council will publicly consider a staff recommendation to sell the lot. It’s currently part of the property of the city’s former recreation centre at 65 Delhi St. Called the West Lot, it is separated from the rest of the 65 Delhi St. parking lot by a small grade separation and a retaining wall.
The West Lot now has 17 parking spaces, but they are “non-conforming spaces,” Eilers said in an interview. Making this lot part of his redevelopment would require conforming to current parking standards, and this would reduce the number of parking spots to 14, he said. These would be added to five existing parking spaces at the side of the building, for a total of 19 spots for future residential tenants.
Council’s approval of the parking lot deal would clear the way for a revised application by Vesterra for rezoning of 55 Delhi, which once served as a nurses’ residence for the nursing school at the nearby hospital.
Long road ahead
However, there is still much to be done before renovations can start at the building, which Vesterra is proposing to turn into apartments, Eilers said.
“We still have a long haul ahead of us,” he said, and renovation work might not be able to start until 2015. The time line for council decision-making is shorter than usual in 2014, as it’s a civic election year, he noted.
The longer it takes until renovations can begin, the more it is costing Vesterra and the more the building is deteriorating, Eilers said. He said raccoons and squirrels got into the building over the winter, and the interior is in rough shape.
Vesterra, a property management company based in Guelph, is also interested in buying the adjacent 65 Delhi St., where the Delhi Community Centre operated. Vesterra was one of the parties that responded to a city hall call for expressions of interest in 65 Delhi, with a closing date of Oct. 30, 2013. So far, Vesterra hasn’t heard anything back from the city about this, Eilers said.
He said he’s heard there are a number of different opinions about what might be done with 65 Delhi, including knocking the building down so that highrises can be built on the site.
The expression of interest submitted by Vesterra was “very vague,” for competitive reasons, but it involves keeping the building and using it for commercial or residential purposes, Eilers said.
“We are leaning toward residential, because of the nature of the neighbourhood,” he said.
By Doug Hallett