Brownfield Roundup in the MHBP ‘hood

There are many exciting things happening to old industrial buildings in our neighbourhood. It seems that genuine urban renewal is underway and that is a great thing.

Before discussing the brownfield areas I wanted to summarize some of the general plans for the Victoria and King street area. As we all know, the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy has been located at the King/Victoria intersection for a few years, and next to it McMaster University has a satellite medical campus. These buildings are just across from the revitalized Tannery building and the pub there has become a popular hub.

I listened to several great bands at the Kitchener Blues Festival this summer and was walking back home along Charles St. and the pub’s patio was full of people eating and drinking and many were inside as well, and the colourful signs of Google, Desire2Learn etc. adorned the old brick walls. It was easy to think that things were turning around for the downtown and, by osmosis, the MHBP area as well.

Future development in the Victoria Street area, from King to Duke, will include a transit hub described in articles here and here.  GO trains traveling between Kitchener and Toronto on December 19 and the transit hub will only increase their ease of access. Of course there will also be an LRT stop in this area which will make it extremely easy to travel to here without a car. So we will have science and technology and transportation within a few blocks of each other. Awesome!

Right next to all this activity is The Breithaupt Block which is currently being renovated.  There are some great photos of this work on the Breithaupt Block’s Facebook page. The MHBPNA Blog has posted two articles on this development: the background to the buildings and a very special “inside” the Breithaupt Block tour.

Speaking of the Breithaupt Block and Facebook, there are rumours that Facebook is planning a “major presence” in Kitchener and will be renting space in this development. If this comes to fruition then it will be a real coup for the BB folks.

Another brownfield project is located on the opposite side of our neighbourhood at Louisa and St. Leger on the old Breithaupt Tannery/Pannill Veneer site. The buildings burned down a few years back and it was a great place to ride a mountain bike. For the past several months there have been environmental assessments and analysis and many big machines levelling the area. Wonderful Waterloo has posted this excellent series of photos. Be sure to read down to the bottom because there are some great “artist renderings” of the condos to be known as “1 Adam Street” and some good discussion. Pretty impressive.

Thanks to our Blog reader Ryan for drawing my attention to the above set of photos and discussion.

Finally, the third brownfield is at the corner of Shanley and Duke. Last year The Record published an article about this building and its long history of contamination and tax evasion. This summer I was part of a group that saw some tentative plans for the building and they looked fabulous. The latest news is that a developer is working on purchasing the building to develop into condos. There are many issues to deal with including legal wrangling, back taxes and environmental cleanup but there is room for optimism. We should know by next summer and the MHBPNA Blog promises to update all our faithful readers at that time.

3 thoughts on “Brownfield Roundup in the MHBP ‘hood

  1. It's really exciting to see all the changes happening around the neighbourhood. The construction at the Breithaupt Block has made for great outings with my truck-obsessed nephew too. Now if only someone who shares this vision of the downtown revitalization would buy the Boemer Box building at Duke and Breithaupt. It's a major hub of drug and prostitution activity. The owner is so outside the vision of downtown, he wanted to buy our newly renovated house so he could level it and increase the size of his scuzzy parking lot.

  2. Dharlene: The Boemer Box building has a number of active businesses operating from it, so it is not really a "brownfield" property. If you, or others, are concerned about activities around the property consider attending a Neighbourhood Mobilization Alliance meeting. The next one is scheduled for February 15, 7 pm in City Hall and these meetings are attended by representatives from By-Law and the Police. The NMA was created over 10 years ago for just these kinds of issues.

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