Riversedge Development has submitted its proposal to the City of Stratford for the development of the Cooper site, and, as expected, it includes the proposed purchase of all or parts of the highly contentious property.
According to the municipality, staff will now assess the proposal’s viability and compliance with existing planning requirements and municipal/economic development objectives. The proposal will first be considered by the city behind closed doors – or at an in camera session – because the matter involves the possible disposition of land owned by the municipality. That is normal procedure under the Ontario Municipal Act.
The staff review may take several weeks or months, depending on the details of the proposal and further dialogue with Riversedge Developments.
The city says it has not committed its support to the proposal and that before any decision is made, the plan will be shared for public comment.
“The Cooper site is an important asset in the heart of Stratford. We fully understand the interest from people in the community on the future of the site and this building," says Mayor Dan Mathieson. “Our goal is to ensure that the site will be developed in the best interests of our community and that it will complement our downtown core."
The City of Stratford acquired the 17-acre Cooper site property on Downie Street through expropriation in 2009. Once a CN railway site, it has been vacant for more than 25 years.
Riversedge Developments – which last week announced plans to redevelop parts of the old Bradshaw building on the corner of Milton and Downie streets into student housing and a hotel, at a cost of roughly $5 million – signed a memorandum of understanding with the city to explore possible development ideas on the Cooper site back in September, and last month was granted by council a one-month extension to finalize its proposal.
Speaking with the Gazette at the Bradshaw Hotel preview event on Jan. 13, Riversedge principal owner, Paul Veldman, hinted that what his company would be proposing for the Cooper site would complement the University of Waterloo Stratford campus and further support "student life" in the city.