News

Report recommends $72G in renovations

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Norfolk staff is recommending $72,000 in renovations to this heritage building at Governor Simcoe Square. The building could be leased to the Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce and the Simcoe Business Improvement Area or a potential private-sector tenant. Norfolk council will consider a report on the proposal Tuesday afternoon. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

Norfolk staff is recommending $72,000 in renovations to this heritage building at Governor Simcoe Square. The building could be leased to the Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce and the Simcoe Business Improvement Area or a potential private-sector tenant. Norfolk council will consider a report on the proposal Tuesday afternoon. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

SIMCOE  - 

The Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce and the Simcoe Business Improvement Area are eyeing new lodgings at Governor Simcoe Square.

“The Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Simcoe BIA are exploring opportunities for new office space,” chamber president Meika Matthews and BIA chair Jim Carroll said in a joint letter to the county last week.

“The size, location and prominence of county administration building (No.) 2 are a potentially strong match for our organizational needs. Both would be prepared to enter into serious-minded exploratory talks about this potential opportunity if county council were to endorse renovation of the building.”

At issue is the heritage brick building at the south-east corner of Governor Simcoe Square on Colborne Street South. The building has been vacant since February, 2016. That’s when Norfolk’s planning department moved into the county’s new headquarters at the corner of Robinson Street and Queen Street in Simcoe.

The retirement of long-serving chamber general manager Yvonne DiPietro last year allowed the chamber and the BIA to enter into a joint services agreement under the leadership of BIA general manager Jim McGimpsey. With winter past, the chamber and BIA are searching for appropriate office space for their joint management team.

“CAB 2” -- as county staff call it – would fit the bill, county CAO David Cribbs says in a report to Norfolk council.

However – before the county rents or leases this space – Cribbs says the building needs about $72,000 in renovations.

Of this, $17,000 is needed to create a handicapped-accessible entrance at the rear of the building. Other needed improvements include upgraded bathroom facilities and internet-telecommunications infrastructure.

In his report, Cribbs says renovations would be a good idea in any event because Norfolk is still short of adequate office space for some of its employees. Staff that could use an upgrade, Cribbs says, work in the county’s information technology department and in community services administration.

“Norfolk County has the opportunity to simultaneously reduce urban blight, protect a heritage asset, and create valuable office space in the downtown area,” Cribbs says in his report.

“County staff are currently looking for more office space and the chamber-BIA have indicated strong interest in being tenants in this property. Any approved use of this building will constitute an improvement to the downtown core. Staff look forward to receiving direction from county council on how best to proceed.”

That direction is expected to come Tuesday at Norfolk’s council-in-committee meeting in Simcoe. The meeting will be held in the council chamber at Governor Simcoe Square starting at 3 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com