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General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Printable Version

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RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - panamaniac - 04-02-2016

(03-29-2016, 03:00 PM)Owen Wrote: And now for some more exciting news.... !  I think this one is going to need it's own thread Big Grin


KITCHENER — The new owners of an art deco landmark on Victoria Street, the former MacIntosh Dry Cleaners building, want to lease most of the space to a tech startup, but keep enough at the front for a coffee shop or brew pub.

The interior of the 6,000-square-foot building has been stripped bare and sandblasted. The brick exterior, triangular metal overhang and yellow, black and green vitrolite tiles give the building at 130 Victoria St. S. a unique look.

It was the only drive-in dry cleaner in the region until it closed in 2015.

For years, Nusrat Govindji and her husband Nizar kept an eye on the 87-year-old building at the corner of Bramm Street and Victoria. They have owned an 11-unit apartment building two doors down from the dry cleaner for the past 15 years. It is rented out to students attending the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy down the street.

So they are familiar with that part of the downtown and watched as startups slowly but steadily leased space in the neighbourhood.

"We thought it was very close to downtown. The Tannery is right around the corner, one of my sons is a software engineer, so we thought it would be just perfect to have a technology company," Nusrat said.

The Govindjis hired Cory de Villiers of Natcordev Inc. as a project manager. In recent years, de Villiers and his wife, Natasha, have restored several old buildings in Hespeler and opened new businesses in the limestone landmarks. They won a heritage award from the Region of Waterloo.

"We are going to make this old building shine again," de Villiers said. "In terms of a wish list of tech companies, this building ticks off all boxes."

The 1,000-square-foot second floor has a door that opens onto a flat roof.

"One of the things that a lot of tech companies look for is rooftop patio space for employees," de Villiers said.

Standing on the roof, he looks back at the second floor of the building and talks about plans for a glass wall that would look onto a patio.

"You can just see the view of the city, Google's Canadian engineering headquarters, just fantastic," de Villiers said. "It will be a great amenity to have here."

Communitech, the organization that supports the region's tech sector, is located two blocks away in the Tannery building. The startups migrating out of the Communitech Hub have driven the demand for renovated, brick-and-beam office space in the downtown. In the past five years, about 45 startups have moved out of the Tannery building and employ more than 800 workers in the downtown.

Brick-and-beam space is now at a premium, and the Govindjis hope to capitalize on the shrinking supply. The 87-year-old building on Victoria Street has ceilings that are more than 12 feet high. All of the joists and beams are exposed. Ditto for the brick walls.

The City of Kitchener has branded the area of the downtown within a 10-minute walk of King and Victoria streets as the Innovation District. The dry cleaning building is located right on the edge of it.

"Tech companies that are growing and expanding are running out of room in the Innovation District are now looking at something like this," de Villiers said.

A big garage door opens onto a large room near the back of the building. It would be perfect for hardware startups and maker space, de Villiers said.

The Govindjis would like to see a coffee shop or maybe a brew pub in the front part of the building near Victoria Street.

All of the old equipment from the dry cleaning business and the interior walls are gone.

"We had all of the ceilings sandblasted," de Villiers said. "There was just a massive, massive amount of old dry cleaning equipment in here."

There are remnants of the steam engine economy in the building. Big pulleys made of wood hang on some walls. The belts and pulleys were connected to a steam engine in the basement that burned coal, and powered the equipment in the dry cleaning business.

"We are being careful to keep a lot of the old, cool, interior features," de Villiers said.

I wonder if this could be the "new build on the periphery of Downtown" (or words to that effect) that the owner of the former Imbibe said he had identified for his new location?

RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - MidTowner - 04-02-2016

(04-02-2016, 11:01 AM)panamaniac Wrote: I wouldn't see office space at that location.  Some sort of conversion to affordable housing would seem a better use to me.

Out of curiosity, what makes you say that? I can easily see affordable housing, but don't know why office space would necessarily be inappropriate (I've never been inside, though). The Transylvania Club around the corner was converted to office space, and Extend-a-Family has office space a few doors down on Moore, so it wouldn't be a brand new use for the block.

RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - panamaniac - 04-02-2016

I just feel it is more of a residential area - but also affordable housing would be in keeping with the mission of the Church (in theory!). I don't know how pressing their need for parking is, but I'm a bit surprised that they were pursuing that route rather than seeking to partner with The Working Centre or others to renovate the place for housing. I say that not knowing what condition the building is in, however.

RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - MidTowner - 04-02-2016

The parking issue is kind of interesting. They have seven spots on church property currently, which is nowhere near what they need during services on Sundays and Wednesdays. But the twenty spots they would add by tearing down the convent are also nowhere near what they would need during those times. At the moment, worshipers use the parking lot behind the former school during services. That could change if that school is ever redeveloped, but if it is there would be no way to accommodate all of the cars that arrive for services, even with the convent developed. Street parking in the neighbouring blocks would probably suffice, but the twenty additional spots allowed by the convent's demolition would be a drop in the bucket.

I think you're probably right that affordable housing would be the best use here, but I think its proximity to King means that no use should be automatically ruled out- this is a neighbourhood that, even if it's primarily residential, should be expected to change. To me, looking at the outside of the building, I wouldn't guess it's in especially rough shape, but I also don't know what condition the interior is in. I would say that a parking lot is the very last thing that should be considered in a location like this, though.

RE: General Suburban Updates and Rumours - Spokes - 04-08-2016

(04-01-2016, 10:42 AM)tomh009 Wrote:
(03-31-2016, 10:41 PM)Lens Wrote: The architect also has a render for the lot on King adjacent to the Market. Didn't Drewlo just buy it?


Note that there are two completely different renders, and the second one is the correct one (the first one is for University Ave).

[Image: 01-387-King-grey-siding-reduced-size.jpg]

It looks good, and would be great news for the long-fallow property.

Not the most amazing project design wise, but fits in with the scale of what's going on there.

Anyone hear any sort of time line?

RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - panamaniac - 04-08-2016

I actually like the scale of that building. As long as the cladding were brick and not stucco, it would be a good Downtown fit. Am I correct in thinking that the render shows the King St E façade at the corner of Madison?

RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - tomh009 - 04-08-2016

And it looks like the yellow brick traditional for the area, which I'm always happy to see!

RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - MidTowner - 04-08-2016

Ditto on the yellow brick and scale. Actually, it looks really nice to me.

RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - Square - 04-08-2016

On page 9 of this PDF it has a plan of condo listed. I wonder if this will be a new tower between 1 Victoria and Ziggys Bike Store? http://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regionalGovernment/resources/PW/PA2016-0412---Link.pdf#page=9

RE: General Urban Kitchener Updates and Rumours - GtwoK - 04-08-2016

Could there actually be a tower BETWEEN the 2? I'd figure if anything, Ziggys would need to come down.