The Mighty Dollar, A&P supermarket, the Salvation Army – what do these three things have in common? They’re all tenants that once called 19 Main St. E. Huntsville home. The building that once housed all of these businesses is now in disrepair and has lay vacant in Huntsville’s downtown core for several years. That’s something that both the Town of Huntsville, and the building’s owner, hope will change in the near future.
The 8082 square foot property is heading for a total overhaul, according to presentations delivered at a committee of adjustment meeting held earlier this month. Greystone Construction’s Patrick Dube was before the committee on behalf of the property owner to present both the plans for the facelift as well as requesting a minor parking variance.
The proposed development would include the addition of 4320 square feet on the rear of the building facing the Huntsville Public Library, the inclusion of a second storey and the creation of a parkette abutting Main Street. The renovations would bring the property’s total commercial space to around 30,000 square feet.
However, the Town of Huntsville’s parking standards by-law requires the development of an additional parking space for every 269 square feet of commercial space, meaning that under the proposed plan, the developer would need to increase their parking lot from the existing 40 spaces to 111 – something that there simply isn’t room for with all of the projects planned new developments.
Dube requested that the committee grant the developer a variance that would allow the developer to skirt the by-law. Committee raised concerns about setting a precedent with the variance, but with the project ultimately falling so in line with the Town’s community improvement plan it was passed.
The community improvement plan is designed to stimulate new investment and encourage continued vitality in the commercial core in all seasons while also putting pedestrian traffic first, facilitating arts and culture and encouraging downtown living.
Councilor Nancy Alcock, who sits on the Committee of Adjustment, said the project meets all of the criteria.
“It’s really consistent with the community improvement plan for the downtown,” Coun. Alcock said. “Because of the addition of the parkette and commercial space, they wouldn’t meet the parking requirement so they asked committee to agree to a limit of 22 [additional] spaces.”
According to reports outlined in the committee’s agenda, there have been no objections to the plan thus far, with the Huntsville/Lake of Bays fire department signing off and consultations with nearby businesses gleaning no complaints. However, Kristin Maxwell, the Manager of Development Process with the Town of Huntsville, said that there is no set timeline for when shovels could be in the ground.
“[The project] needs site plan approval,” Maxwell said. “That would go to planning committee before they could get a building permit.”
She did add that the developers said they were “anxious” to get started as soon as possible.