Comment 82315

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2012 at 12:01:18


“It depends how fast this heritage bubble comes to the forefront,” says Blanchard.

DRESCHEL: $120-million Gore Park complex still a dream in the making By Andrew Dreschel

Fri Oct 26 2012 08:33:26

They’re polar opposites. Good cop/bad cop. An old married couple. All rolled into one.

Developer David Blanchard is dark, slight and soft-spoken.

Rob Miles, his property manager, is big, blonde and blustery.

Together, around their paper and coffee cup strewn board table at 1 Main East, they’re bickering proof that their plan for a $120-million development on the south side of Gore Park isn’t even out of diapers yet.

“This is a condo tower,” says Blanchard, indicating a Legoland-like rendering of the proposed complex for the block bounded by King, Main, James and Hughson.

How many storeys? a reporter asks.

“Well, we don’t know,” says Blanchard.

“I don’t think the condo will be part of the final discussion” Miles interjects.

“Don’t even say that,” says Blanchard. “Don’t talk about it.”


“Because …” Blanchard begins

“ … it probably won’t happen,” Miles finishes.

“It doesn’t matter, Rob,” Blanchard shoots back. “The point is this is totally an open book. We don’t know what it’s going to be.”

And so it goes. Back and forth, for the better part of an hour.

There’s no anger, no rancour, just two guys sitting on a crucial piece of downtown property who have no defined idea of what’s going in there.

It could be a commercial, retail and residential development.

Or it could be “scaled back” to small boutique buildings for single tenants.

Blanchard isn’t sure if there’s a way to save a couple of heritage buildings fronting King East.

Miles says the real answer is they’ll be happy to restore the facades if someone donates $10 million to the project.

They’re not really open to a casino going in there.

But if someone approached them, they’d look at it.

Make no mistake. These guys are the real deal. One day, something eye-popping will certainly arise on that block.

After all, they didn’t spend something like eight years and $9 million assembling the property to idly sit back and watch it crumble, especially after recently terminating the handful of remaining leases.

But they’ve got no city approvals in place, no tenants lined up, no final design, no concrete plans.

Yeah, they’ve talked to a few grocery stores and office users and they know a bit about the condo business.

But they also know that’s probably kind of premature at this stage.

“There’s no sense in really doing that,” says Blanchard, “until we have a really good plan that we’re all happy with. How do you sell something when you’re vague, when you’re this and you’re that?”

How long before they nail down that good plan?

“It depends how fast this heritage bubble comes to the forefront,” says Blanchard.

For his part, Miles is confident the concept will ultimately dwarf heritage concerns. But he also speaks of the next phase in terms of “if” not “when.”

He wonders how the city is going to feel about a building shadowing Gore Park.

And how will it feel about a truck loading zone and driveway for servicing retail businesses?

“If the city says, ‘No, we will not allow you to have your trucks come off Main Street and load into that garage,’ we’re screwed,” says Miles.

“We can’t do anything with this because whether we have a grocery store or retail, they have loading needs.”

Blanchard says it’s a very important site and they want to do it right, but he agrees there could be “innumerable obstacles.”

No doubt. And now that they’ve gone public, they can add another big one to the list — managing expectations.


Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-10-26 12:13:44

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