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Rendering from council package

Rendering from council package

This rendering, from a city council agenda, shows Phase 1 of Fusion Homes' planned multi-phase development on the former W.C. Wood site. This is the view of the proposed building from the river.

W.C. Wood plans set for unveiling

By Doug Hallett
Guelph Tribune

After years of site cleanup and planning for the future of the former W. C. Wood factory land on Arthur Street, the plans for building more than 600 dwellings as well as commercial space there will be unveiled next week.

City council is expected to give final approval to rezoning of the eight-acre site on Monday, and a launch event is set for Wednesday Aug. 27 at 5 p.m.

This event will be at the site’s southwest corner at Arthur and Elizabeth streets, where a presentation centre is now being built.

Sales of housing units in the development’s first phase are to start at the centre late this fall.

The Aug. 27 event isn’t a sod turning, but rather “more of a brand launch” designed to let the community know what is coming, says Janice Kochan, a marketing consultant who is working on the project for developer Fusion Homes.

“We will unveil the new marketing name of the community,” she said in an interview Monday. “It is Guelph’s newest urban village, here at 5 Arthur, and we are quite excited about it.”

Fusion president Lee Piccoli and Mayor Karen Farbridge will be among the speakers. It’s primarily an invitation-only event, but “we’d be happy to have the neighbourhood there,” Kochan said.

Fusion is proposing five phases of construction worth nearly $300 million at the site over five to 10 years, said a company news release Monday.

“Outstanding features of this new community,” it said, “include the revitalization of the former industrial lands owned by W.C. Wood Co. Ltd., a freezer manufacturer, to create a vibrant new live/work downtown destination; over 100,000 square feet of the site dedicated to new green space; a 50-foot river walk enhancing connectivity to the Speed River; and a proposed 30,000 square feet of retail/commercial space.”

Along the river, on floodplain lands, a public walkway is proposed that would lead from Neeve Street and around a heritage building to a proposed city trail along the Guelph Junction Railway line, says a new city staff report.

Phase 1 of the redevelopment will consist of 133 high-density residential units with 2,500 square feet of indoor amenities.

Development of the site is proceeding with help from about $18 million worth of incentives from the city.  This amount includes a reduction of almost $3 million in development charges in recognition of the substantial industrial buildings that had to be demolished at the site, says the staff report. This sum was agreed upon in 2010, as was a $3.4-million brownfield redevelopment grant to the site’s former owner.

In February, council awarded Fusion a total of $11.7 million in brownfield and downtown “major activation” grants towards the first three phases of the redevelopment, largely to help with the high cost of building parking on the site. Like the earlier $3.4-million grant, this money won’t get paid until construction occurs and begins to create new property tax assessment for the city, the report says.

The first phase of the development is expected to generate about $490,000 in additional property taxes annually. The whole development would generate about $2.6 million in new property taxes if built today, the report says.

The first three phases will consist of linked apartment buildings in the centre of the site, with townhouses on the Arthur Street side and also on the side facing the river. The three phases will be joined by a shared underground parking garage and joined podium buildings, with rooftop amenity areas at the third-storey levels.

The main vehicular route and access to underground parking for the three buildings is to be through an entrance on the north side of the Phase 1 building, off of Arthur Street. One main lobby in this building would serve as the main access to the second and third buildings, although they would also have separate smaller access points as well.

The 10-storey Phase 1 building is to consist of 119 apartment units and 14 townhouse units. The Phase 2 building in the centre of the site is proposed to be 11 storeys and also contain 133 dwelling units. The Phase 3 building is proposed to be 12 storeys and contain 135 dwelling units.

The proposed fourth and fifth phases are each to be 14 storeys high and include both apartments and commercial floor space. Fusion is also planning to build residential and commercial space in the site’s vacant heritage building, but actual uses of this 44,000 square feet of space have yet to be determined, the city report says.

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