Thursday, October 30, 2014

Proposal for ‘RL’ outlined

A funding proposal to redevelop the site of the vacant Rainy Lake Hotel was outlined to downtown business owners yesterday.
Rainy River Future Development Corp. consultant Tannis Drysdale said the RRFDC, on behalf of the Town of Fort Frances, met with the Downtown BIA members and Chamber of Commerce president Mark Caron to discuss the proposal to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. they’re preparing to action the project plan for the site.

Drysdale explained stage one would entail taking down the old hotel, and preparing the site, but not eliminating the history of the local landmark.
“In building whatever we’re going to build, it’s going to be in the spirit and honour of that facility,” she said.
“We’re not going to lay waste to it and forget it was there.”
The second stage would include redeveloping the property into a market square.
“The anticipation is that we would build a farmers’ market and pull-through traffic parking for larger vehicles, which has always been sort of a conundrum in our downtown,” noted Drysdale.
“If you have a boat or trailer, it’s hard to find a place to stop on Scott Street,” she conceded.
“So we’d provide that, as well as parking for folks that would want to go to the market square.”
The market square also would feature indoor and outdoor market space for vendors, with the latter being a building to house them from the elements.
“All of the details are not worked out,” Drysdale stressed. “Architecture is not worked out.
“The consultation with the [Clover Valley Farmers’ Market] will be ongoing this week regarding their interests,” she added.
“Preliminarily it’s been positive, but we have to have more meaningful dialogue.”
The RRFDC plans to have the application submitted to the NOHFC in the coming weeks. If successful, the project could be done this summer.
The funding application will be for between $1 million and $2 million, with the Downtown BIA also pledging to contribute financially to the project.
“Considering everything, it’s probably the best idea for a plan—for a market square with a covered roof to make it more livable nine months of the year,” said Doug Anderson of Betty’s, who also is BIA chair.
“Who knows what will develop after that?
“We hope that a lot of the money will stay within the community, find more employment for people here,” added Anderson.
“It’s a big first step,” he admitted. “I think council and mayor have worked really hard on this to get this point.
“Extremely hard.”
“I think anything that brings traffic to the downtown area is a good thing,” agreed Ted DeBenetti, owner of A Buck or Two, who could not attend yesterday’s meeting but had received the information relayed during it.
“And anything that can be done to that building, to take care of that eyesore, would be great for everybody,” he added.
“I know the BIA came to the table with money, finally being able to say to the group, ‘Okay, we have this money. What do you guys want to do?’ which is a nice, refreshing change,” said DeBenetti.
“So, hopefully, something will happen out of it.”

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