Thursday, July 15, 2010

Willow Facelift, Election News and Drugs in HCBP

HCBP open for (illicit) business

When politicians said that the Hanlon Creek Business Park was going to attract new business to Guelph, they probably didn’t have a recent discovery by Guelph Police in mind when they said it. On June 29th, the Drug Enforcement Unity was tipped off that on the city owned lands that will become home to the HCBP, there was an outdoor grow op. After investigating the police did indeed confirm that yes, there were several marihuana plants being grown in a section of HCBP. In fact, there were 340 marihuana plants in the early stages of maturation. The combined street value of those plants if they had been allowed to mature into dried marihuana would have been $340,000. So far, nobody’s been charged for the operation of this op and all plants have been destroyed by the police.

Getting a jump on Election Season

With the hot summer weather, it seems logical that there’s not going to be any big candidacy announcements, with maybe a few exceptions, until late August. (Ray Ferraro was the last person to make the plunge as of June 17th. At least at press time.) Still, there seems to be one person e chomping at the bit for the nitty-gritty excitement of electioneering to begin. In the last week, a few “David Birtwistle for Mayor” signs have popped up at strategic locations around Guelph. Too soon, some would say, considering polls don’t open till the morning of October 25th. Not at all, say the City’s election rules. Once a candidate has registered and paid a $200 deposit, a candidate is free to put up signs as they see fit. Apparently Sean Farrelly, Ian Findlay and Maggie Laidlaw have also paid their deposit, but their excitement is clearly no where near as palpable as Birtwistle is seems.

Willow West Getting Facelift

Apparently the owners of Willow West Mall are taking the departure of Zellers as a sign. Last week, it was reported in the Guelph Tribune that the mall’s owners, Bentall LP, had given notice to all stores within Willow West, with the exception of Roy’s No Frills and the R U Serious restaurant, till the end of August to say sayonara. “The idea is to redevelop the shopping centre and convert most of what is enclosed today into large-box retailers,” Angelo Di Palma, Willow West’s property manager, said to the Tribune.

Clearly the recent closing of Zellers, which anchored the south end of the mall, created an opportunity for Bentall to gentrify their holding at the corner of Willow Rd and Silvercreek. In May, the owners announced that a Leon’s Superstore would be filling the space vacated by Zellers, and currently developers are in the process to get the proper permits in order to begin the renovations on the 76,000-square-foot premises. News of a forced mass exodus of most other Willow West shops came as no surprise to business owners like Kirit Gohil of Guildcrest Jewelers, but the timetable, however, was. “If they had informed us when Zellers was going out, we could have had the closing sale (at the same time) and that would have helped,” he said about his end of August eviction date.

Reversely though, others think Bentall’s rejuvenation of the mall is excellent news. “This site has been tired and ignored for entirely too long,” said Roy Zannoni, the Roy of Roy’s No Frills. “I think the community deserves better.” Interestingly, Willow West Mall was the first enclosed mall ever opened in Guelph, and the Willow West area was one of the first commercial developments outside the downtown to be developed in Guelph. Willow West Mall itself has been marked for redevelopment for a few years now with a lot of commercial business heading to the south end of the city or further west to the Paisley and Imperial area. Exact construction dates and potential new retailers have yet to be announced.

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