KENILWORTH – Arthur could see up to 70 more downtown rental units over the next few years as a result of a proposed development.
On Sept. 9, through its community improvement program funds, Wellington North council approved grants up to $10,000 to support planned improvements to 164 George Street in Arthur – the previous home of the Queen’s Hotel.
Economic development officer Dale Small stated the application came from Arthur Green Developments Inc., owner of the Queen’s Hotel property.
Small stated the intent is to convert the existing commercial building into a commercial retail and mixed-use building.
He added the proposal includes enveloping some of the underutilized/vacant land behind the building – including two large additions and a new stand-alone building – to make space for up to 70 rental housing units and a large green space.
Eligible costs relate to façade improvements, building permit and development charges fees, accessibility improvements and the conversion of existing space.
“This proposal fits perfectly with our community growth plan, development charges and downtown revitalization focus to encourage rental housing developments and more downtown living options,” said Small. He added staff also believe “the applicant is eligible for up to $20,000 in CIP Invest Well funding from Wellington County and an application would be submitted once the township council approved this request.”
Councillor Dan Yake said it seemed more and more applications are being made for CIP funds as word gets out and people see what businesses are doing.
Yake asked Small if he believed this trend would continue and, “If so, will this require more money to be invested in the program?”
Small replied, “This is an extremely popular program. It’s been around for six years and we are getting a lot of improvements made to our community.”
Small said funding could be a challenge moving forward to meet increasing requests. This could result in funding deferrals or searching for other funds to support the CIP program.
“We are fortunate (Wellington County) is continuing to support us through the $25,000 in Community Improvement Program funding,” Small said. He noted CIP funds are approved for an eight-month period and are not paid to the applicant until the project is complete.
Yake commented, “this is a great program for our downtowns.”
Small added “We are getting a four-to-one return on the investment. The applicants are putting in significant funding as well.”
Councillor Steve McCabe asked if this would be an area where an Arthur BIA would be beneficial.
Small said it could help, but not eliminate the financial challenge, as a BIA would provide other funds for downtown improvements.
Mayor Andy Lennox said the CIP funds for the Queen’s Hotel are a big commitment.
“It’s a big project,” responded Small. “It will be an awesome project if it gets off the ground, but it’s going to take a few years.”
Lennox noted he recently discovered an American website, strongtowns.org, “which made a really good argument for investing in our downtowns.”
The mayor later confirmed this was the first time the former Queen’s Hotel development was discussed in public at council.