Bob Forrest, the developer who wants to demolish irreplaceable historic commercial properties in Newmarket’s Main Street, has given the tenants a reprieve for at least 6 months.
In a rumoured $1.7m deal last year Forrest bought a string of properties adjacent to the Old Post Office as the land was needed for his proposed condo.
He gave the small business tenants six months notice to quit by 31 March but he has had a re-think following recent set backs.
A packed public meeting in the Council Chamber on 3 February showed a clear and vocal majority of local residents against the developer’s latest plan. Councillors have also grasped the simple fact that Forrest needs Town owned land for his project to work.
It is in no-one's interests for flourishing small businesses to be kicked out onto the street and for retail frontages to be boarded up. As I understand it, Lemon and Lime, the upscale furniture and upholstery store, is determined to keep trading. So too is the Pizza Place next door and the DVD shop. The Upper Crust coffee shop has already closed and the hairdresser, next to the Old Post Office, is relocating. My spies tell me the Insurance broker wants to stay put.
Town planners will be putting a report on the Clock Tower to the Committee of the Whole in April.
Councillors should reject the Forrest condo plan outright. The question then is how long will Forrest want to hold on to land he cannot develop? If he sells the land on, I suspect we shall see a more sympathetic proposal come forward.