FRAM Building Group selected to redevelop Orillia’s waterfront

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

After a detailed RFQ and RFP process, the City of Orillia has selected FRAM Building Group as the preferred proponent for the Waterfront Redevelopment Project.

“I would like to thank all of the proponents for their interest in Orillia and the time they invested in preparing proposals,” said Mayor Steve Clarke.

“On behalf of Council, I would like to congratulate FRAM on being selected as the preferred proponent to redevelop the site. We look forward to working closely with FRAM as they progress through the development approval process for the revitalization of this brownfield site in the core of the city that links our beautiful waterfront to our heritage downtown.”

FRAM Orillia

The design concept submitted by FRAM includes a mixed-used development with waterfront townhomes, an eight-storey condo building at the corner of Coldwater and Front Street, a variety of commercial space, green building practices, pedestrian linkages and more.

The Downtown Tomorrow: Linking Orillia’s Core to the Water study (Downtown Tomorrow Plan)recommended 33 strategic initiatives and 20 priority action items to better connect Orillia’s downtown core and waterfront areas. The Downtown Tomorrow Plan identified opportunities to extend several city streets to the waterfront, redesign and extend Centennial Drive, and extend the retail experience to the waterfront.

Concepts will be further developed and refined through site plan approval, community engagement and ongoing collaboration with the city. After confirming the decision at a meeting last week, Orillia’s mayor said the mixture of residential, commercial and public spaces will bring residents and visitors to the area.

During a special council meeting Friday, council passed a bylaw to confirm an agreement of purchase and sale — of 70 Front St. N. and surrounding land — to FRAM.

The value of the contract will not be made public until the sale is finalized later this year or early in 2022. Calling the plan revolutionary, councillors said the waterfront project will “change the narrative” and build a connection between downtown and the waterfront.

One of the main reasons for the project, and for the city purchasing the Metro plaza, was to extend Coldwater Street to the waterfront, opening up the view of the lake. Metro will remain where it is, but the rest of the plaza will be demolished. That work is expected to begin in October.

In order to facilitate redevelopment of the lands, much of which will require environmental remediation, the city had to first “de-risk” the site to make it appealing to developers. This included the expropriation of lease rights which restricted development, preparing the lands through pre-zoning, and the forthcoming demolition of the southern portion of the plaza.

“Orillia’s Waterfront Redevelopment is a very exciting project to be a part of and we are thrilled to have been selected as the preferred proponent,” said Fred Serrafero, FRAM’s senior vice-president and one of the firm’s principals. “We look forward to working with the City of Orillia to bring our concept into focus and develop the site in a manner that will revitalize a former brownfield into a vibrant part of the downtown waterfront community.”

FRAM has developed a variety of residential mixed-use and commercial property across the Greater Toronto Area, Southern Ontario, Alberta and markets in the U.S. and has been recognized for innovative designs, particularly focused on energy efficiency and environmental sustainability through brownfield redevelopment projects such as its multi-award winning project of the Port Credit Village in Mississauga, as well as the Shipyards Waterfront in Downtown Collingwood.

The City of Orillia purchased 70 Front St. N. in 2016 to extend Coldwater Street to the waterfront and facilitate a redevelopment of the southern portion of the property.

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