There is a hive of activity today down at Bob Forrest’s historic Clock Tower properties on Main Street. Men in white overalls and face masks are heaving stuff from the property interiors into skips for construction waste.
The historic properties at 180-194 Main Street have been boarded up and neglected for ages. But though they are gently mouldering away they are still liable for property taxes of around $42,000 a year. Bob has been shelling this out year after year but I suppose it is small change for him.
What the Town gets in taxes with one hand it generously pays out in grants with the other.
As part of the deal struck with Bob Forrest’s Main Street Clock Inc last year, Forrest is eligible for grants of up to $100,000 to help bring the property facades up to scratch.
The matter was on the agenda of the Newmarket Downtown Development Committee on 29 March 2019 and drawings were available for members to view but these were not given out. My spies tell me the application was for the facades and interior renovations of the historic commercial buildings at 184-194 Main Street South. The Clock Tower building itself did not feature. The application was deemed to be incomplete and it was deferred to a future meeting.
New Development Concept
But how on earth did it get this far when we haven’t yet seen the so-called “New Development Concept” when it was promised “in the near future” on 4 May 2018.
Section 10 (b) of the agreement between the Town and Forrest’s MSCI says this:
“The Town will provide access to the Newmarket Downtown Development Committee (NDDC) incentive program up to a cap of $100,000 to the extent that the New Development Concept qualifies and meets program criteria...”
Cart before the horse
It seems to me Forrest is putting the cart before the horse if he is requesting cash from the Town before we have had sight of the New Development Concept. How do we know if it qualifies and meets program criteria if we haven’t seen it?
Has the Town seen the New Development Concept?
Has anyone asked for sight of it?
And if not, why not?
This is happening, for goodness sake, under our noses in the very heart of the Town's Heritage Conservation District. Have we gotten too used to the sight of these empty and decaying buildings?
Are they now just a familiar part of the streetscape?
Why can't the Director of Planning write an Information Report tomorrow and tell us what's happening?
Insofar as he knows.