A Markham-based developer is proposing to demolish the former Beaver Theatre in downtown Minden and construct an apartment building.

Shamsher Khemani, CAO of Fortune Realty Developers Limited, made a delegation to Minden Hills’ Dec. 17 council meeting. He was joined by Rahim Lakhani, who purchased the building. Lahkani said he is still involved but had moved to Portugal for personal reasons, so Khemani is now the lead. Joe Ferrara of Napa Valley Contracting also joined the meeting.

They came to request that council waive the need for an environmental study at 12 Water St., and in so doing, provided details about their plans.

“We are proposing a beautiful apartment building on the same lands,” Lakhani said. Their project is a three-storey building with 12, one and two-bedroom apartments and a commercial component.

Lakhani said when he purchased the building with the intent of refurbishing it as a theatre, there were soil and engineering reports but no evidence of environmental concerns. He added the building had never been used as a commercial laundromat or gas station, which may have caused contamination.

They want the condition waived, “to take that eyesore off and put a beautiful building that overlooks the Gull River,” Lakhani said.

Khemani said it would provide much-needed housing, including for seniors. He added that due to Lakhani’s overseas move and COVID the project has been slowed but they are now ready to proceed. However, Ferrara said they’re “at a crossroads and a standstill” if an environmental study is needed. He said it could add one to one-and-a-half years to the project timeline.

Mayor Brent Devolin said the development of an old property into something that serves the community is “exciting and we’re definitely in support of that.” However, he said he would like to see a full staff report, with all of the documents, to the Jan. 28, 2021 meeting.

Coun. Bob Carter, who is the chair of the housing task force, said he would certainly welcome any housing projects in the community. However, he needs more information.

Coun. Jean Neville said she would like to see architectural renderings of the façade to see if it is esthetically pleasing from the road. She commented she thought the apartments were a bit small and wanted more information about access and parking.

Coun. Jennifer Hughey said she welcomed more housing in Minden but needs more information as well.

“This is the first time that I’m hearing about it and if that’s the case then I would assume it’s the first time that most of us are hearing about it and therefore do need more information before making a decision,” she said.

Ferrara said they are 95 per cent ready to go and can supply all information to staff. Council received the delegation as information only.

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