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Concrete plan for moving forward with IMICO site finally in place

Partnership will identify investors and create concrete plans that should help secure funds needed to clean up the site
The former IMICO site in the Ward. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday

For the first time in many years there appears to be a significant step forward on the horizon in the redevelopment of the IMICO property.

The City of Guelph is poised to partner with Habitat for Humanity and a Waterloo consulting firm that specializes in partnering investors with development aimed at urban revitalization.

The goal of the partnership is to move forward with turning the IMICO site into a “holistic urban village” that would include market-priced condominiums and rental units, Habitat for Humanity and Creating Homes ownership units as well as some affordable rental and social housing units.

It would also include retail uses and community uses.

"I'm very proud of this. This is a concrete plan, the first one we've had in 20 years," said Ward 1 councillor Dan Gibson, who has championed the IMICO issue for some time.

"There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes on this and it's a big step forward," Gibson said.

Staff is bringing a memorandum of understanding to council’s planning meeting on Dec. 12 that would solidify the partnership.

While some may see the move as more rhetoric, it is in fact a concrete and organized step that is needed to move forward.

How quickly and how cost-effectively that can be done is still to be determined, but having a plan and partners in place that includes an affordable and social housing component would go a long way in helping secure the government funding needed to help clean up the site, which is the first step in doing anything on it.

The three-pronged partnership will look at everything from securing funding for cleaning up the property to securing investors for the development.

The 12.9-acre home of the former IMICO factory, located at 200 Beverley St. in The Ward area of the city, has been vacant for years.

Redevelopment of the site has been blocked by the costs – and responsibility for the costs – of the significant environmental clean up needed before development can take place.

The new agreement between the three parties, which will be in effect until 2020, will find interested investors, determine what needs to be done to get it ready for development and pursue the money to do it.

The agreement does not include any new financial commitments by the city for the clean-up or redevelopment at this time. Council would still have to approve that.

The city’s 10-year capital budget forecast already includes $4.6 million to the IMICO site.

Officially the memorandum of agreement will be signed by the City of Guelph, Habitat for Humanity Wellington, Dufferin, Guelph and Waterloo consulting firm ARQi R&D Inc.

ARQi R&D a Waterloo consulting firm specializing in partnering investment and development opportunities focused on urban revitalization and economic growth.

ARQi will be the planner of the property.

General Manager of Business Development Peter Cartwright will oversee the project.

“It is the intention of the “Parties” that the IMICO property will be redeveloped as a holistic urban village, which will be unique, vibrant and invigorating,” says the staff report going to council’s planning meeting Dec. 12.

“Building upon smart urban planning and development principles, the village will positively contribute to the social and economic needs of the community, whilst being economically sustainable and financially viable.”