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News - All - 30 Jan 2019

News Item 128 of 4603 

Miscellaneous: 30 Jan 2019
Business interest high in renovated Legion building in Kitchener, owner says

oisin Capital bought the former Legion hall on Ontario Street in downtown Kitchener last July and has been renovating the building since then. - Mathew McCarthy , Waterloo Region Record

KITCHENER The former legion building on Ontario Street in downtown Kitchener, which has been empty for 18 years, could be open for business as offices as early as June.

The city-owned property at 48 Ontario St. sat empty from 2001 to 2017, when the city put out a call for redevelopment proposals.

Voisin Capital was the successful bidder, and closed the deal on the two-storey, red-brick and sandstone building in early July.

The building has undergone "quite a transformation" since then, said Frank Voisin, president of the real estate development company. "When we bought the building, we did so knowing the mechanical systems, the electrical systems, all of that had to be stripped out and brought up to today's standards."

The company has also repaired the roof, and removed linoleum floors, false ceilings and all dividing walls, stripping surfaces to the bare concrete and exposed brick.

The smaller, chopped up rooms have been replaced with wide open spaces with high ceilings. There's a lot more light, Voisin said, with the addition of eight skylights and the replacement of the windows, many of which had been covered over or blocked up.

The renovations highlight the building's heritage features. Bell Telephone built the building in 1914 and had its offices there until 1941. Workers uncovered what appears to be original telephone conduits, which will be displayed in the renovated offices.

The building has attracted a fair bit of interest with 18 to 20 tours so far for prospective tenants, Voisin said. He attributes the interest to the site's combination of heritage, a free-standing building that a larger tenant can occupy and brand as its own, and location, next to the LRT, and walking distance to a variety of amenities.

Voisin, who lives downtown, said he is struck by the growing vibrancy of the core. "Every year, there's a palpable difference in the feel downtown. There's more restaurants and things to do. King Street feels like a completely different city than it did even five years ago."

Voisin plans to develop the building in two phases. The first phase, with the original 1914 building, will be essentially built by late March and ready for occupancy by June.

The second phase will add 34,000 square feet with a glass-walled lobby and a two-storey addition, for a total of 46,000 square feet. That phase will happen over the next three to seven years, depending on market demand, Voisin said, noting that there are a number of prime downtown office sites coming into the market.

Voisin Capital helped develop Catalyst137, transforming a former Uniroyal Goodrich warehouse into a high-tech hub, and renovated 8 Queen St. N. into brick-and-beam office space occupied by tech startup Vidyard.

cthompson@therecord.com

Twitter: @ThompsonRecord

catherine thompson Waterloo Region Record/AA
 

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