April 2011 – Shelley Krieger will soon have a reason to look up as she steps out of her Douglas Street café.
The owner of the Red Brick Café has been frustrated with the lack of activity across the narrow street at the remains of the Gummer building, destroyed in a 2007 fire.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even look up at it anymore,” Krieger said of the crane, which has remained inert at the site for more than two years.
But Gummer owner Skyline announced Tuesday work will resume within a couple of weeks.
“We’re going to get going as soon as possible,” Chief Sustainability Officer Jason Ashdown said. “I hope to give the crane a test run (Wednesday) and be back under construction within two to three weeks.”
On Monday night, city councillors approved an application from Skyline to convert a rental apartment building on Yarmouth Street into condominiums. As part of that application, Skyline also pledged to create 20 rental apartments in the redeveloped Gummer building.
Ashdown said Tuesday the original plan for the building did not include a residential component, but company officials were forced to re-examine their plans after the economic downturn.
“Certainly that’s something the public and council were quite interested in,” Ashdown said, noting the recent push for more residential development in the downtown core.
The top three floors of the building will be apartments, with open-concept designs and balconies overlooking the city. There will also be two floors of office space and one floor of street-level retail space.
Skyline will move its offices into the Gummer, taking up about half of the office space.
A previously announced plan for the Co-operators insurance giant to move staff from a Scottsdale Drive building to the Gummer will not happen.
“The conditions of that agreement were not met and so Skyline is making other plans for that (Gummer) building and we’re aware of that,” Co-operators spokesperson Leonard Sharman said. “The new plan looks great for the downtown and we’re excited to see the new building.”
They’re not the only ones.
“I am delighted,” Krieger said Tuesday on hearing the news. “I’m excited to see the work resume.”
Douglas Street “has the potential to be a real destination spot for Guelph with a good mix of retail and restaurants and office and residential,” Krieger said. “It’s been so sad the past few years but I think it could be better than ever with this going ahead.”