Bayshore begins demo of former GM site
Bayshore Groups has marked a milestone on its redevelopment project at the former General Motors site on Ontario Street.
On Sept. 8 the company started demolition on the west side of Ontario Street, marking the start of the changing face of the 54-acre property.
“It’s a very big milestone — the beginning of changing the face of the city forever,” said Bayshore CEO Robert Megna. “The full demolition to bring everything to grade will take about a year.”
The demolition comes nine months after Bayshore unveiled its preliminary plans for the property, which at the time included a proposal for a $250-million redevelopment project that would incorporate a mixed use with residential and commercial developments, as well as a possible innovation park with a technical trade school or business college. Megna also believes strongly in seeing an opportunity to use the property to allow for the extension of Carlton Street with a bridge over Twelve Mile Creek.
At this point, however, Megna said that draft could change based on the financial realities.
“We’re committed to the redevelopment and the property,” stressed Megna, noting they will continue to keep their headquarters there.
“The dynamics, however, have changed for us and we have to be aware of some of the economic issues that surround us.”
Those dynamics, he said, include a changing labour force, as well as the need to continue dialogue with the City of St. Catharines about issues such as the land-use plan and potential community improvement plan grants. The Ontario Street property is designated as general employment lands and the land-use study will look at the best uses for the property.
“There’s some important pieces of the puzzle that we need to complete first,” said Megna. “We have challenges in front of us, and we’re expecting that throughout the process, but we want to see this be a successful development that will benefit the city for decades to come.”
At this point, said Megna, the goal is on getting the property to grade. Work began on the west side and will continue until the rest of the property is complete. The last piece of equipment was removed from the site in late August, so workers will be working towards the goal of clearing the site within a year. Bayshore will continue to work out of the office area of the property at this time, although Megna said the plans could change down the road when they look at the final development plan. He noted, however, they are committed to maintaining their head office in St. Catharines.
“There’s a lot of work to do and despite some upcoming union challenges with Liuna, we’re committed to the city and the people,” said Megna. “We just need their patience as we work through this. It’s a significant project and isn’t going to happen overnight.”