I was so excited after reading a news release about the old Tremont Hotel building in downtown Collingwood, Ontario, that it was hard to get to sleep.
As I mentioned in another post on the subject, the Tremont building has sat neglected and abandoned since the town purchased it several years ago with the intention of tearing it down for parking. Since the building is located in the Heritage District and is considered to be an exceptional heritage asset, it would have been a horrible shame. Thankfully, the current council stopped to reconsider that decision and ultimately put out a request for proposals to the public.
Recently, Collingwood council accepted a proposal from local residents, Richard and Anke Lex. Rick is a developer and also the current president of the local chapter of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and a noted heritage proponent within the community. Anke is an artist specializing in gorgeous maiolica pottery. The combination of their skills are a perfect fit for a plan that is an exciting model of combined heritage preservation and environmental sustainability.
According to the media release, "The project involves the preservation, restoration and revitalization of an important designated building in the Collingwood Heritage Conservation District and its adaptive reuse to provide commercial opportunities and live/work space for the creative sector. The building will incorporate sustainable and environmental measures along with heritage preservation. Some of the green energy components that the building will feature include solar PV and solar thermal as well as grey water recycling and heat recovery." I think the concept of live/work units is a fantastic approach that is sure to garner significant interest.
For the town, this plan may also solve the other problem residents have expressed about the lack of parking for the new library being built next door. The Lex's have confirmed that their plan allows the Town of Collingwood to retain over three quarters of the property for parking. The Lex's state that work is to commence this summer and that it will include restoration of the building's 1889 façade.
This is a wonderful example of an adaptive reuse of a heritage building that will have new life in a sustainable fashion. Instead of becoming landfill, this landmark building is now destined toill become a jewel in the downtown core.