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City seeks users for two publicly owned historic buildings

Expressions of interest sought for former drill hall and Carter farmhouse structures
File photo of the former drill hall building at 72 Farquhar St.

With an eye toward putting vacant, taxpayer-owned buildings to use, the city is calling for potential user groups to step forward with ideas about what they could use them for.

The city is currently accepting expressions of interest regarding the former drill hall building on the edge of the downtown core at 72 Farquhar St. and a structure known as the Carter farmhouse at 880 Victoria Rd. in Puslinch.

“The city has paid for and completed a significant amount of work to stabilize the drill hall, and it’s now a blank canvas for someone to re-animate this historic building in the heart of downtown,” said Ian Scott, the city’s manager of facility design and construction, in a news release. “The Carter farmhouse is historic and charming; however, several requirements must be met before anyone can occupy the building.”

The deadline for submitting an expression of interest regarding the drill hall is Sept. 26, while the deadline for the farmhouse is Aug. 31. Details can be found here.

After the deadlines, city staff will review submissions and “select or recommend to council the best applicant(s)” based on financial viability, community impact and overall feasibility of proposed concepts for use of the properties.

A caveat hanging over the Carter farmhouse property is that any use must not impact a municipal water well on the 53-hectare property just outside of Guelph, in Puslinch Township.

“Interested parties must be aware that this critical piece of infrastructure, which must be protected by the Clean Water Act, and the forested areas and Torrence Creek must be protected when considering potential future uses of this property,” states the release.

The back wing of the building dates back to the 1840s, while the main, two-storey section was constructed between 1865 and 1870. It is designated for conservation under the Ontario Heritage Act.

A portion of the property was acquired by the city in 1916 to establish the water well. The rest of the property was acquired between then and 1983.

By the end of this year, the city is expected to have spent about $110,000 to ensure the building is structurally sound and help prevent further deterioration.

The drill hall was built in 1866 on the northeast corner of Wyndham and Farquhar streets. It was initially used as a training facility for Guelph’s voluntary militia, as well as to hold local agricultural shows. Through the years it has also operated as a general community hall and was occupied by a variety of industrial uses.

The designated heritage building has sat vacant since 2006 and is closed to public access at this time.

At this point, the city has spent more than $5 million to stabilize and rehabilitate the drill hall structure.


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