Region considering buying former provincial courthouse
Waterloo Region Record
By Catherine Thompson
KITCHENER — The Region of Waterloo is looking at the possibility of buying the former provincial courthouse at 200 Frederick St.
The building has sat vacant for almost four years, after local court services were consolidated in March 2013 at the sleek, new regional courthouse at 85 Frederick St.
The province declared the old courthouse surplus, and in 2016 offered it for sale to other levels of government, including the City of Kitchener, the Region of Waterloo and local school boards, as well as eligible not-for-profit organizations that have registered with the province.
That offering yielded "multiple expressions of interest and (we) are currently in discussions regarding a potential sale," said Ian McConachie, a spokesperson for Infrastructure Ontario, which disposes of provincial property.
Regional Chair Ken Seiling confirmed that the region is considering buying the Frederick Street courthouse. "We're taking a look to see if there is any potential for us to use it," he said.
The property's central location — just down the street from regional headquarters at 150 Frederick St. and the Kitchener detachment of the Waterloo Regional Police Service at 134 Frederick St. — makes the property attractive, Seiling said. But the fact the building was built for an entirely different purpose and would likely need considerable interior work means that the region needs to take a close look "and see whether there's a match or not," Seiling said.
The region most recently bought the 1965 former county courthouse at the corner of Weber and Frederick. It spent $21 million to renovate the space before regional staff moved there in September 2015 from office space leased elsewhere.
McConachie wouldn't say how many parties expressed interest in the Frederick Street property, and said it could take several months for potential buyers to decide whether or not to put in an offer. "Discussions are continuing. We hope it will lead to a sale."
The three-storey concrete building was built in 1977, measures more than 87,000 square feet and sits on slightly more than two acres of land at Frederick at Lancaster streets. It's easily recognized by the distinctive but controversial twisted orange fibreglass sculpture in front of the building.
It was designed in the Mid-Century Modern style by Kitchener architect John Lingwood, a prolific local architect who put his stamp on a number of prominent local buildings in the 1950s and '60s, including the former University Heights high school (now a campus of Conestoga College), the TD Bank at King and Francis streets in Kitchener, the Kitchener transit terminal and the John Aird Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University.
If no sales materialize from the expressions of interest, the property would be put on the open market, McConachie said.
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