The Regent: A Pipe Dream or An Inspired Success?
Let’s end the year with something new to look forward to.Is it possible for a company with no development experience, to build what could eventually become one of the most coveted developments in Collingwood? My money says yes.
Named after the historic Regent theatre that was once located on the site, this unique, boutique style development is proposed to include 12 condominium units ranging in size from 1000 to 1800 square feet with an additional 4500 square feet of commercial space. The plan calls for a 3 storey building with a 4th storey at the back, a private, interior courtyard, elevator and underground parking for the occupants. The design is respectful of it’s prime location in the heart of Collingwood’s downtown Heritage Conservation District and would the first development if it’s kind on the main street of town.
Originally built in 1904, most people will recall the former building in its later years as the “bingo hall.” Sadly, it had deteriorated to a point that it was no longer structurally sound and had to be torn down. The location is well situated on a large lot on the west side of Hurontario Street and within easy walking distance to shops, services, restaurants, the library, town hall and of course, the waterfront on Georgian Bay.
After seeing artist renderings of the planned development, I was intrigued but could find little information online. Thankfully, my request to meet with the principal, Craig Marsh, was accepted and led to an enjoyable and wide-ranging conversation that spanned a couple of hours. I’ll admit I went into our meeting with suspicions about the credibility and abilities of this company so, I spent a considerable amount of time asking about him personally. To my surprise, he was an open book who comfortably answered any question I tossed out to him.
Craig grew up in South Africa in an entrepreneurial family having roots in the South African travel and trade publications business. His grandfather, John Marsh was a noted author and publisher and, Craig’s family still resides there. His brother Anton Marsh, is his partner in The Regent and also continues to run the family publishing business. As a side note, the development company behind the condo project is endearingly called Mon Desir as it is named after the house his grandfather owned.
Craig moved to Canada at the age of 19 and after many years in and around the GTA, he relocated to the Collingwood – Blue Mountain area 3 years ago. One day, his father came for a visit and while walking down Collingwood’s main street, they noticed the For Sale sign in the window of 84 Hurontario St. By chance, they met owner of the neighbouring building who had recently completed his own heritage renovation and I guess you could say the seeds of a dream were sown and Craig bought the building.
A self-confessed dreamer, Craig speaks enthusiastically and with confidence about his penchant for out-of-the-box thinking. In our chat, he said, “We’re really excited about the possibility of creating something that doesn’t exist today. I know that what we build may still be standing 200 years from now and we want to ensure it makes a contribution to the community.” He described to me how the design of the building evolved to make maximum use of the site while being sympathetic and complementary to the heritage nature of the area.
Craig explained that they envision something that will be of value to full-time residents who want to live and anchor in the town in a high quality and unique downtown environment. The design is planned to include things like exposed brick on interior walls, high quality finishes, large windows, integrated smart home technology, electric charging stations for vehicles and an upper level, shared patio area for residents.
When I admitted that I wasn’t sure how he could be so confident when he had no experience in developing something like this, he honestly said, “I’m not divorced from the realities of what we may encounter” and then went on to explain how they had recruited an experienced team of engineers, architect, sales and legal experts to bring the plan to life.
The site plan was filed with the town in December and the goal is to have the building ready for occupancy by the end of 2019. Currently, the demand and interest exceed the number of units planned and, it appears preference may be given to those who wish to live in The Regent on a full-time basis. Prices are expected to run around $500 a square foot which is well in-line with the local market for a product like this and, condo fees are projected to run about $500 a month.
As A REALTOR®, I have confidence that the project will come to fruition and be highly successful even with a few inevitable bumps likely to be encountered along the way. More importantly though, as a resident of this great community, It’s clear to me that the team behind The Regent “gets it” and will surely meet Craig’s vision of contributing something unique, special and of long term value to our community.
Here’s to new adventures in our community in 2018. Happy New Year!