Revival of Well inc. : still weeks of waiting

Expected for May, the call for proposals for downtown revitalization, the second draft of Well Inc., will not come until June. It could even be launched in July.
With the abandonment of the Consortium’s project, which was to see the Depot and Wellington Hotel parking lots and the construction of two towers on Wellington Street South, it was hoped to unveil the new vision for the May project. If the process of ideation of elected officials has slowed down, it is among others that they have given themselves time to consult the community, notably thanks to the composition of an advisory committee with a dozen members. Business people, residents, elected officials, community organizations and representatives of the city are there.

Read also: Traders are thinking of leaving the city center

The first meeting of this new entity was held on Thursday night.

“Preparing the call for proposals is more complicated than we thought, because we added a lot of things. We could not stay deaf to everything we heard. And the document, it must be written to take ownership and ensure that it is consistent, “summarizes the president of the revitalization committee of downtown, Chantal L’Esperance.

She hopes to unveil this new vision before the council takes a vacation in July. “Everyone has a tight deadline, but the fast track entrepreneurs and the fast track of the City do not go at the same speed. We want the document to be binding, but without neglecting quality. ”

Not disconnected

Alexandre Hurtubise, a member of the advisory committee and president of the Downtown Business Association, believes it is possible to launch the call for proposals in about 30 days. And that’s what he hopes to see happen.

In the meantime, the first meeting of the advisory committee will have restored the link between elected officials and the community. “We will consult with them for all downtown revitalization projects so we can make the right decisions. We will not be disconnected from their reality. Not that we were disconnected, but we learn things when there is a synergy. There may be a better listening now because of the vicissitudes that we lived, “says Mrs. L’Espérance.

“There are actions that are not necessarily expensive but that will have to be done in the short term and that will make a bigger difference than we thought,” says the elected, without giving concrete examples.

“We want to build the trust of the shopkeepers, those who are fighting for the city center. We hear what we have heard around the table. ”

Alexandre Hurtubise seemed pleased with this meeting. In addition to the improvements to facilitate parking in the downtown area, he wants an embellishment of Wellington Street South pending demolitions.

“Clearly, I feel a political will to revitalize downtown for real. It will be just positive to correct small irritants now. We will have meetings every two weeks by the summer and we are all people who agree to disagree and say so. I have different signals that small irritants will be corrected. ”

The content of Thursday’s discussions will be on the agenda of the downtown revitalization committee next week.

The city center keeps the rating

There has been concern among downtown retailers since the failure of Well Inc.’s first version, says Commerce Sherbrooke acting director François Desmarais. But several ongoing projects suggest that downtown has lost none of its appeal to developers.

“There are plenty of projects going on downtown, but the timing is that they have not come to fruition yet. They will end in the next few months. Most projects on drawing boards are not restaurants. There are relocations, but there is something new, “says Desmarais.

The acting director of Commerce Sherbrooke adds this clarification after two traders, Jean-François Bédard of Glori.us and Marilyne Gagné of Dermapure, declared that they were thinking of leaving the city center.

“There is definitely still interest in the city center. Limocar moved his offices there, whereas he could have gone on the edge of the highway. It’s a good sign. People are starting to understand that Well inc. will take longer, that the project may change its name, but it arouses interest. ”

Mr. Desmarais, who can not reveal the name of new businesses for the moment, cites the case of a company that wanted to triple its size and has chosen a vacant place for more than five years in downtown. “I’m not negative at all about downtown. Even as banners approached me. Of course we would like to have a clear vision, but people are motivated and it will come. ”

Business travel is not more in downtown than in the rest of the country, according to him. “It’s difficult to generalize, but Piosa doubles its size. He would not do it if no one came to downtown. ”

The works at Promenades King will not hurt downtown, he believes, even if a shop like Fan Club decided to move his home. “Sherbrooke is still able to absorb a lot of new businesses. With Well Inc.’s call for proposals, people will be able to grasp the timing, starting when construction begins, and the vision will be presented to traders. ”

For example, two or three promoters of Wellington Street North would already have plans for new businesses on the other side of King Street. Four or five serious companies were also interested in Well Inc. “We keep them in the crosshairs to restart them. ”

François Desmarais adds that the mix of uses will give a boost to downtown businesses. “If we are going to eat in a good restaurant on a Saturday night, we will not even wonder if parking is paying. If you go for a quick dinner, it can actually be a problem. That’s why we need workers, residents directly in the city center. ”

The director of Commerce Sherbrooke admits that it may be necessary in the meantime to revise the way to give visibility downtown. “In today’s business, constant efforts are needed to attract customers. It is certain that the day when all the locals will be full, it will be easier. Downtown branding is already established. It has a supra-regional role for entertainment, arts and good food. This is where he stands out. There must also be neighborhood shops and to make live a pharmacy, a grocery store, it is necessary to densify the population. ”

As for 2 Wellington Street North, François Desmarais set himself the task of installing a tenant. “There are some solutions. I have promoters who are interested. At this moment, I bridge the gap between the owner, the developers, the City, to develop this building. He had been targeted for expropriation, but the city fell back. The important thing is that we get to rent. The elected ones have a firm will that something happens. Several options are on the table. ”

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