The Clock Tower and adjacent buildings owned by developer and self-styled entrepreneur, Bob Forrest, is up for sale.
An ad in the Business Section (page B13) of today's Globe and Mail states this:
180-194 Main Street South – intersection of Park Avenue and Main Street South in Downtown Newmarket.
(Site includes historic Clock Tower building and four commercial storefront buildings)
Present Zoning: UC-D1 OP
Historic Downtown Centre
Contact us at
905-752-6776 ext 229
Bob Forrest snapped up the Old Post Office (now known as the Clock Tower) on 1 March 2011 for $2,340,000. It was on the market for $3,275,000. He then bought several adjacent properties on Main Street South from Michael Bryan, reportedly for some $1.7 million, giving him a parcel of land big enough to develop. Even so, to this day, Forrest still needed Town-owned land for his project to get off the ground.
Newmarket’s professional planners worked closely with the developer for two years yet, astonishingly, councillors were never asked if they wanted to make Town-owned land available to a developer whose project ran directly counter to the Town’s policies for the area.
In September 2013, Forrest’s business tenants at 184-194 Main Street South (Lemon and Lime, Upper Crust Bakery, Econo Pizza, the Video Store etc) were given notice to quit by 31 March 2014. But in early March the eviction threat was thought to have been lifted.
The site for Forrest’s proposed 9 storey condo was smack-dab in the middle of the Town’s Heritage Conservation District that was designated in 2010. However, it was not until October 2013 that the foot-dragging Town Council got round to enshrining that policy in a By Law. Pressure had been mounting all year for the Town to act. An artist’s impression of what Forrest’s condo would look like sent shock waves through civic groups. Many people were outraged. The Town’s Heritage Advisory Committee voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposal in April 2013.
In November 2013, Forrest’s company Main Street Clock Inc appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, claiming a planning application for the condo proposal had been lodged with the Town before the By Law was enacted.
On 3 February 2014, the Town held the required Statutory Meeting to consider Forrest’s proposal. A report on that meeting has never been published by the Town.
Forrest’s planned timetable for the project was thrown out of kilter by the Heritage Conservation District By Law passed in October 2013 that, he says, “caught us by surprise”.
He subsequently offered to extend the lease of his tenants until September 2014 and then on a month-by-month basis but only if all opposition to the project stopped.
That was never going to happen.