Cautiously optimistic about development
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | March 14, 2019|
Today’s front-page story has the potential of being one of the biggest stories of 2019 in Dysart et al.
Last September, Bill Mardimae and his son, Phil, came to a Dysart et al council meeting. They’re with Gardens Retirement Developments Inc. out of Richmond Hill.
They came to talk about a property they were buying at 1 Sunnyside St. in Haliburton. It’s the site of the old Fleming College building on the western gateway into the village. It’s across from Granite Cove condominium and would overlook Head Lake.
The Mardimaes came with images of a Gardens of Parry Sound Retirement Residence that has recently opened in that town.
Their Haliburton pitch is a four-storey building with possible lower level walkout; approximately 55,000-square-feet; 74 units to start, from 350-600-square-feet in size; independent and assisted living options; a dining room; theatre; salon; bistropub; and shuttle van; rents of $3,100 to $5,000-a-month, which includes all meals, housekeeping and amenities.
The Highlander has been keeping an eye on this development ever since that meeting. We noticed when the ‘sale’ sign went up in the new year and contacted Phil Mardimae, who told us the land sale had closed and they were working on drawings and completing the site plan.
Dysart et al Senior Planner Sue Harrison confirmed staff met with the Mardimaes in late February. The proponents are now doing required studies, working on drawings and a site plan.
Mayor Andrea Roberts said she believes things are moving along nicely. She thinks the Mardimaes are committed to the project.
We hope she is right. The reason I say ‘potential’ in the first paragraph is the site has been proposed for development in the past but never come to fruition. Readers might remember One Sunnyside, Bluewater and Watercolours, for example.
First, it would create much-needed seniors housing in the county. The Mardimaes have said that if phase one is successful, they would consider a phase two.
Some have questioned the affordability, at $37,200-$60,000 a year. There’s no doubt that will be out of the price range of many seniors in the county. However, when one considers it is an all-inclusive cost, seniors who have equity from selling their homes may be able to afford the price tag.
Former Dysart et al Mayor Murray Fearrey has said that as those seniors sell up in and around the village, they will create additionally badlyneeded housing stock for singles, couples and families moving to the area.
Speaking of Fearrey, we’d be remiss here if we didn’t credit him and a volunteer committee that put Haliburton County on the Mardimaes radar in the first place. In addition to Fearrey, there was Andy Campbell, Kent Milford, Harvey Bates and Mike Johnson. CAO Tamara Wilbee assisted the group. They went looking for this kind of development for Haliburton. So, if the $17-million project goes ahead, they deserve a huge pat on the back.
In addition to supplying badly-needed seniors housing in the county, it would provide an economic boost for our building sector. It is also slated to create 30 full and part-time jobs when opened, according to the Mardimaes.
As such, we’ll be anxiously awaiting this portfolio’s return to Dysart et al council.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.