Grimsby town council shuts the door on Desantis condo project, a 5/4 split

Proposed condo building in Grimsby's downtown Rendering of proposed condominium building in Grimsby's downtown

Grimsby Town Council will not allow a DeSantis condo building project, slotted to be built in the empty lot at the east end of Main Street.

The four-storey 87 unit building was proposed by developer DeSantis. It was designed to fill the vacant lot at 6 Doran Avenue and 21-23 Main Street East on the old Roxy Theatre property. The site currently sits next to Judge and Jester pub. The lot has been vacant since the mid to late 1990s.

The decision not to move forward was a close 5/4 split. Councillors who voted for the condo building proposal were John Dunstall, Dave Kadwell, Kevin Ritchie, and Randy Vaine. Councillors opposed were Dorothy Bothwell, Reg Freake, Dave Sharpe, Lianne Vardy. Mayor Jeff Jordan voted against the proposal, as tie breaker for the vote.

The primary concerns raised by council members were related to the proposed tandem parking spaces offered to tenants, the square footage breakdown of the restaurant, and that the Aug. 31 deadline was not enough time to make the final decision.

Bothwell, Vardy, and Sharpe raised red flags on tandem parking. The concern is that tandem parking would be a hassle for residents and that it would cause them to park on the street instead.

“Residents in this community have skin in the game because it’s their downtown…They don’t want more parking problems. They’ve already got parking problems,” said Vardy.

Sharpe raised similar parking concerns. “If parking becomes a problem, residents are going to contact me, and I expect the answer is going to be ‘there is nothing we can do’. I am going to have to get back to residents who depend on me and say ‘sorry, I didn’t do my due diligence,” said Sharpe.

Dunstall, Kadwell, Ritchie, and Vaine did not agree that parking was a hurdle to moving forward with the project.

“There are people in this town who want to retire…this building matches the heritage features of the downtown…I think if we turn this, down, in my opinion, I think we are not dealing in good faith. (The developer) met everything we asked for. We could lose thousands of dollars…We need this development,” said Vaine.

“I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s going to be great for the downtown. We have hundreds of businesses in this municipality that are looking for this,” said Ritchie.

The arguments to move forward with the build weren’t enough to sway council to approve the project.

“We lost four months. Some of the information we got in the eleventh hour…I would rather see an extension. I really think we owe this more time,” said Mayor Jeff Jordan.

The idea of an extension was not adopted.

The application was originally submitted in 2018. At that point, it was an eight-storey building. It met with public criticism so the developer modified the plan to a four-storey building. The proposed condo also included approximately 600 square metres of commercial and restaurant space on the first floor.

The project proposal as it stands now is defeated. If DeSantis addressed parking concerns in a new proposal and made an offer to acquire an adjacent laneway, currently owned by the town, which would alleviate some of the parking concerns, the project could have a chance of moving forward.