Writen by Robin MacLennan
After years of debate and delay, HIP Developments has started construction on the first of two 20-storey condominium towers in the Gaslight District located in Galt, a community in Cambridge.
“The fences are going up and the heavy equipment is moving in. It is incredibly exciting to get underway with the residential construction of The Gaslight District,” HIP development president Scott Higgins said in a news release. “We’re looking forward to this new and exciting addition to the Cambridge community.”
Over the last number of months, portions of stone buildings have been demolished, while other sections have been gutted or modified. When completed, the Gaslight District will include commercial spaces, an event hall, retail, art, and dining facilities, as well as Tapestry Hall, Foundry Brewing, and the Energy+ head office.
The property, located between Glebe Street and Grand Avenue, was formerly Southworks outlet mall and Tiger Brand factory.
Plans were officially approved in June 2017, but construction was delayed because of concerns that the development would destroy historic buildings.
The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) launched an appeal of Cambridge’s planning approvals. Under a recent settlement, the height of the towers remained the same, but a larger portion of the historic industrial complex on Grand Avenue South must be retained and a significant portion of the north building’s original facade will be preserved.
“This site, dating from the 1890s, is one of Ontario’s few remaining intact industrial complexes. Among other impacts to this distinctive heritage, we were concerned with the extent of the loss of the north building — the site’s ‘front door,’” ACO Cambridge branch president Jeremy Hetherington said in a news release.
The revised plans also include a street lined with retail on both sides, instead of a driveway leading to the towers.
Artist studios and public art will be an added feature and the overhaul of space within the Gaslight District will create an estimated 300 jobs. Tapestry Hall, an event hall with capacity for 600 people seated and 1,000 people in total is already booking events.
Condo units in the first tower sold out in 48 hours, convincing the developer to change the plan to from rental units to more condos in the second tower. Residents are expected to start moving in late in 2021.
A sales launch for the second tower is expected in late September.
HIP’s development team is also working out the future of the project’s central hub, a massive courtyard in the middle of the U-shaped industrial complex. The focal point of the project—Gaslight Square—is a one-acre European inspired cobblestone public square. According to the HIP website, they plan to fuse the past and present in Gaslight Square, with its historically inspired design and fun public art.
“We felt that it was important to preserve and restore historic details to pay homage to the Galt’s industrial past,” Higgins said. “We also intend to help the community celebrate the stories of the Grand River.”