Name of developer won’t be made public until closer to July 16 meeting
The city may have found a dance partner for the redevelopment of the Baker District — but for now, the dance card doesn’t have a name.
According to a report to be presented to councillors at a special meeting of council on July 16, city staff are indicating that a preferred development partner has been identified and are requesting council’s approval to enter into a letter of intent.
Staff are also requesting $500,000 in spending to advance planning and implementing the project.
However, what company that staff have given a thumbs up to and are looking to sign a letter of intent with has not yet been made public.
Scott Stewart, the city’s deputy chief administrative officer for infrastructure, development and enterprise services, tells the Mercury Tribune that the reason for not naming the development partner just yet is a matter of solidifying some details before going public with the name.
“There’s certain things procurement and legal have to do,” he says.
“There was some final due diligence that has to take place.”
Stewart adds that if the work can be done in time to file an addendum to the July 16 agenda with the developer’s name, it will be done. If not, it will be announced at the beginning of the meeting.
“There’s no hiding here. It’s just a case of getting the right things, I’s dotted and T’s crossed,” he says.
“You don’t want to stumble the minute you arrive on the 16th because there’s something that comes out of this last bit of due diligence.”
In March, the city announced that four development teams — HOK Inc., Turner Fleischer Architects, Windmill Development Group and Triovest Realty Advisors — had been shortlisted to put forward proposals for the redevelopment of what is now a parking lot on Baker Street.
Stewart says that while the July 16 meeting will not see exactly what will be built on Baker, council will get an idea of what is coming.
“Once we announce who the partner is, we’ll show the type of work they’ve done across the country, so you can get a feel for the type of work they bring to the table,” he says.
“We’re not going to get flushed on July 16 with picking out brick colour. The important part of this stage was the land a dance partner we think we can get this letter of intent done with.”
The anchor tenant for the new development at Baker is the new main branch of the Guelph Public Library. The new facility, at just under 88,000 square feet, will replace the current main branch on Norfolk Street. Guelph councillors gave their thumbs up to the business case for the new facility in February.
Also approved by the library board in January, the new library comes with a budget of approximately $46.25 million. Based on expected inflation rates, that would come to a little more than $50 million by 2021.
Should council approve staff’s request to enter into a letter of intent with the currently unidentified development partner, the city will enter into negotiations with said partner to complete master planning of the site, establishment any procurement opportunities for the public components of the development (such as the library and public parking), confirm the financial commitments required by both the city and the developer, and to negotiate the terms for transferring ownership of the property.
Pending council approval, staff will come back to council chambers in the second quarter of 2019 to give an update on the project, including a first look of what will be built on the property.
Stewart says once the initial design phase gets underway for the library, that will be when public consultation will get started.
“All that consultation starts to happen, with the view that we come back with a design that everyone will be excited about in Q2 of 2019,” he says.
Staff expect this process will take about 12 to 18 months to complete, with a cost of about $500,000.
At the same time, work will start on parts of the project. Over the next three to four years, it is expected between $25 million and $30 million will be needed in order to develop the suit, with those funds going toward buying needed properties and subsequent demolitions, environmental investigations and rehabilitation, archeological remediation, and site servicing and preparations.
In total, according to the staff report, the full costs for the redevelopment of the Baker District, between both the City of Guelph and the developer, could reach to as high as $360 million.