Jeff Heuchert email@example.com
The restorative development company eyeing a possible adaptive re-use of the Cooper site has also set its sights on a second former industrial property in Stratford.
On Tuesday, representatives from Riversedge Developments revealed to the public for the first time plans for the Bradshaw Hotel – a roughly 75-unit rental development inside the old factory that towers at the corner of Milton and Downie streets.
The building, built in 1903 for the Mooney Biscuit and Candy Company, has some 55,000 square feet, and currently is home to World Gym and JL Bradshaw Limited, one of Canada’s oldest wholesalers of giftware, glassware, kitchenware, and home decor accessories.
The roughly $5 million project will see the second and third floors of the building converted into student apartments during the school year that will double as hotel rooms during the Stratford Festival season.
The long-term plan is to build an additional fourth floor on the rooftop to hold six larger suites and an entertainment space for live music.
“It’s all pretty exciting,” said Riversedge principal owner, Paul Veldman, during the company’s preview event, which was attended by more than 100 students from the University of Waterloo Stratford campus who were asked for feedback regarding the layout of rooms and what sorts of amenities they would like to see on site.
A model suite with loft, one of the smaller units that will be offered at just 210 square feet, was on display to give students an idea of what to expect.
Veldman said the goal is to build something that complements the school and student life, but also what his company has in mind for the nearby Cooper site, the plans for which need to be submitted to the city by Jan. 20.
The company has named its overall vision – with both sites – the “Downie District.”
“We really want to create an inspirational place to live for the students that is an extension of the programs that they are taking,” Veldman said about the hotel, which is slated to open in time for next fall, noting the two floors will also come with a communal dining area and meeting room to encourage collaboration amongst the tenants.
Veldman said he stumbled upon the old warehouse space a little over a year ago by chance after meeting with administration at the Stratford campus to learn about the school’s future housing needs.
According to the university’s Leanne Perreault, there will be between 250-300 full-time students studying at the St. Patrick Street school come September, thought not everyone will choose to live here.
Veldman, whose company specializes in the revitalization of distressed industrial properties, said he was intrigued by the building right from the beginning.
“I literally walked out the door (of the campus) and saw this place and thought, ‘What an awesome opportunity to do an adaptive reuse,’” he recalled.
Veldman said Riversedge is currently finalizing a purchase agreement for the building and has already had the building inspected by an engineer. An environmental assessment was also “positive,” he added, noting there will need to be some clean-up done around the parking lot.
The property’s present zoning permits a hotel but not the student housing, Veldman said, indicating applications to the city would be forthcoming in the near future.
Once the redevelopment is complete, the rental units will occupy the second, third, and eventually the fourth floor, as well as have a reception area on the ground floor. The gym will remain on the main floor as well and the Bradshaw wholesale business – which at one time occupied the other floors, will operate out of the basement.
Veldman added the plan is to restore a street-level entrance to the building from Downie Street.
Riversedge is working on the project with local architect Michael Wilson, who told the Gazette he is excited to be a part of a large project involving a heritage-protected building.
He said the structure will be faithfully restored while any additions, such as a fourth floor, will introduce modern features that contrast the existing building.
In addition to free lunch, Tuesday’s event included an acoustic performance by Greig Nori, lead singer of Canadian band Treble Charger.