GRAVENHURST - Although it’s taken a little longer than planned, the face of Gravenhurst’s downtown core is about to drastically change.
THE NEW FACE.
The downtown core will look very different soon with the former Giant Tiger under major renovations to house the Gravenhurst IDA and two other businesses. This artist rendition details what the building at 180 Brock Street will look like.
Image courtesy of Katie Keates
The former Gravenhurst IDA building at the corner of main street and Brock now has a new foundation in place and framing is under way, while the old Giant Tiger building at 180 Brock is nearing the end of its facelift. Gravenhurst IDA co-owner Katie Keates is starting to get excited about the prospect of moving from her temporary location in the Fabricare centre and back to the heart of town.
Her plans include moving the IDA business into the former Giant Tiger, while the former location that was destroyed by fire in 2011 will be rebuilt to house two new businesses, some office space and even two apartments.
Keates said if all continues smoothly, the IDA should be able to open at its new location in Giant Tiger in early January.
“It’s been like any renovation; there’s always more involved than you first think,” she said. “At this point we’re looking (to open) just after the New Year but it should look just fantastic.”
She explained the bulk of the work at the former Giant Tiger thus far has been the internal workings: gutting, demolition and rebuilding. Keates said a great deal of work had to go into new plumbing, electrical and creating space for three businesses in the 10,000-square-foot space. She said the IDA will consume half of that and two smaller offices are being created at the front of the building, so all three businesses will have front windows facing toward Brock. She said now that with the bulk of the interior work complete, crews will begin refinishing the exterior.
“The visual impact will happen very fast there,” she said.
The plans include installing new windows and new siding that will look very much like that used on condos at the wharf. Douglas fir will be used to trim the entranceways and Keates said it should have a wonderful historic, but clean and modern appearance.
“It’s (the former Giant Tiger) going to look very different; we’re really excited about it,” she added, saying she is hopeful once the renovations are complete, it won’t take long to fill the two vacant businesses.
Meanwhile, the reconstruction of the former IDA site is getting under way in earnest. She said the plan there is to recreate the two-storey building to look as much as possible like the original.
“I’m still picking the exact style; if I do look at brick I want it to look heritage,” she said.
Plans there include creating two business spaces on the ground floor with one entrance to the main street and one facing Brock. Upstairs, room for two offices will be created while two, two-bedroom apartments are planned.
Keates said there will be an elevator installed and plans are to build the apartments to be fully accessible for those with mobility issues or seniors.
“There’s nothing really like that available in town,” she added, saying she already has tenants lined up for the retail spaces.
If all goes well with that portion of her project, she expects the building to be open and ready for business in May 2013.
“In a little bit of time, I think Gravenhurst is going to shine like the jewel she is,” Keates said, adding both IDA customers and staff have been gracious and patient during the time of transition. “I just feel so fortunate to have the staff and the customers we have; if it wasn’t for the community standing behind us, we simply wouldn’t be able to move forward like this.
“It’s what makes our town so great,” Keates added.