Fate of retail plaza in the hands of MTO Rockwood, Ontario

Excerpt from THE NEW TANNER Thursday, Sept. 8, 2o16
By: Vivien Fleisher


Plans for a retail development around the ESSO Station in Rockwood are at the “high level visionary phase” according to Robert Eilers, partner in the Vesterra Group located in Guelph. In laymen’s terms, this means that several concepts for the plaza have been drafted and are awaiting the green light from the MTO, after being initiated in January of this year. Vesterra began assembling the commercially-zoned parcel spanning 204 to 250 Alma St. and behind the Esso station, which is not part of it, in 2007. Once they started to obtain demo permits for it this year, speculation in town went wild over who the prospective tenants might be, but as Eilers will tell you himself, even he doesn’t know who they are. That’s because it all comes down to MTO approval. Without it, they’re nowhere, and if they do get approval, when is anyone’s guess. Costs to satisfy them are part of the unknown, so where the project goes from here comes down to two things: what the MTO wants, and how they then make the whole thing financially viable.

What is known if it goes ahead, is that future businesses will include a 30,000 sq. ft. grocery store, a two-storey professional building with retail on the ground level and one more spot for what will likely be a bank or restaurant. To arrive at draft concept plans and make the whole development financially viable, these elements had to be built in. Without approval no one is going to commit to signing anything. The striking thing however is that Vesterra is taking a different approach, with many features that reflect growing concern over water and energy conservation, green space and environmental protection, none of which are required. To that end, plans incorporate: solar panels; rain water harvesting to run sprinklers and toilets; car charging stations in the parking lot; oil/water separators to prevent contaminant from automobiles from running into the storm sever (and to protect the property behind); and green space along the street front with more trees than we are accustomed to seeing in such spaces. If all goes according to plan, the whole project is a minimum of two or three years from completion.

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