After the new health complex opens its doors in the spring of 2013, residents and businesses in the Queenston area of St. Catharines can look forward to a new vibe in their neighbourhood.
The NHS has signed a deal with Niagara Falls developer Panoramic Properties Inc. -Butera Group for the sale of its Queenston Street property once it no longer serves as a functioning hospital.
The search for an interested buyer was advertised both locally and nationally following years of community consultation with the Queenston Community Advisory Committee (QCAC) and approval of the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning by the City of St. Catharines.
The focus will be on converting the aging property into multi-unit residences, which has been lauded as a positive step forward for the Queenston community.
“Higher density residential development will breathe life into the local businesses, as well as attract other businesses to the area. This will help to create a more populated urban neighbourhood, in line with Smart Growth policies, and act as the first step towards economic renewal,” says Butera Group’s architect Michael Allen.
An important feature of the development will be to preserve some of the General’s historic features, as well as to incorporate the neighbouring Centennial Gardens and Old Welland Canal to enhance the natural heritage area. Some items of historic significance will also be moved for display at the new hospital site.
“The proposed residential development supports our revitalization efforts, increases housing options in our community, as well as preserves the site’s historic and natural features,” says St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan. “We’re pleased the former St. Catharines General Hospital site will be redeveloped and bring new life to this neighbourhood.”
QCAC Chair Robbie Davidson is happy to see the sale of the St. Catharines General Site move forward.
“It has been our privilege to work on plans with the NHS over the past years to create a vision for the type of revitalization that would suit this neighbourhood. We have been assured that Butera wants to continue working with the community and are welcoming our involvement. We look forward to seeing their vision for the future of this site, based on the guidelines we’ve created.”
Community revitalization is not uncommon to The Butera Group, who over the past fifteen years has succeeded in acquiring and rehabilitating not only aged buildings, but neighbourhoods, to a state never expected.
In particular, Butera achieved significant success and received awards of appreciation for a project in Ottawa which virtually revitalized a complex once known to have the highest crime rates in the City, to one which is currently well sought after by residents.
The company has taken this approach with a multitude of buildings across the province, with the more prominent projects taking place in Hamilton, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Trenton, Belleville, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, and most recently a hospital in Sudbury.
Due to the terms of the agreement, the purchase price will not be disclosed until closing in the Spring of 2013 when all terms are finalized and the title changes from NHS to the Butera Group.
The Ontario Street Site was sold in similar fashion in 2006 to Walker Industries and Mountainview Homes for residential development.
“The NHS made a pledge early on that we would not let the St. Catharines General or Ontario Street site go dark,” says NHS Interim President and CEO Sue Matthews.
“By selling the property in advance we can be confident that once we move into our new health complex Butera will build a vibrant and thriving future for this neighbourhood and the Hospital can focus on our number one priority, which is providing the best possible patient experience.”
The sale of both properties helps to fund the local share of the new hospital.