C.F. Crozier and Associates has pulled out of plans to locate their new headquarters on one of Collingwood’s main streets.
In a letter included on the Sept. 25 council consent agenda, chief executive officer and founder of C.F. Crozier & Associates lnc. Christopher Crozier wrote to Mayor Yvonne Hamlin, informing the town that Crozier would no longer be locating their new headquarters at 380 First St.
C.F. Crozier & Associates Inc. officially announced their plans back in February to build a new head office on the site, which was slated to be complete in the fall of 2024. The 2,000-square-metre three-storey building was to be built for Crozier by developer Nutak Holdings Ltd.
“As a result of challenging economic conditions that have unfolded over the past 12 months, our firm has decided to terminate our agreement with Nutak Holdings Ltd. and withdraw from the 380 First St. project,” wrote Crozier.
“While this is unfortunate, it was evident to us that the project was becoming financially untenable and not aligned with our corporate philosophy of sound fiscal management,” he wrote.
While follow-up questions sent by CollingwoodToday to Crozier’s manager of communications Menah Kerr asking for more specifics were not answered, Kerr sent an emailed statement.
“We are committed to the Collingwood community but currently do not have any further information to share,” wrote Kerr.
C.F. Crozier & Associates Inc. is a consulting firm which provides services in civil, water resources, transportation, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering, complemented by hydrogeology, environmental consulting, landscape architecture, and building science services.
The new headquarters building was planned to incorporate sustainable and plant/tree elements including a mass timber structure as a nod to Collingwood’s shipbuilding history, green walls and an expansive atrium featuring a grand staircase to serve as the building’s central hub. The design showed 60 surface parking spaces and a rooftop terrace.
The project last came before council in October 2022 when it was granted a site plan control agreement for the property. The project was granted an interim control bylaw exemption on March 21, 2022 to allocate water and wastewater to the site.
During the Sept. 25 council meeting, Coun. Deb Doherty asked for an update on what Nutak Holdings intends to do with the site.
“In their view, they do not believe that building as previously presented to council would be generally marketable,” said the town’s planning director Summer Valentine. “They have asked that the site plan agreement be expunged from title.”
“The owner is quite interested in moving forward with a new application for that site that can be more generally marketable,” she said, adding Nutak is working with the town’s economic development team.
Valentine said a new planning application for the land is expected to come to the town from Nutak in the next few months.
Coun. Chris Potts noted it was disappointing to see that trees have already been removed from the property. He pointed to a trend of developers removing trees from sites across town but not proceeding to build, with lands left empty for years.
“Is there any plan to replant trees?” he asked.
Valentine noted that 380 First St. represents a unique circumstance.
“I can understand the comments provided by the councillor. Up until just recently, this project was full-steam ahead with building permits applied for and development charges paid. It came as a surprise to all involved on the municipal side,” she said.
Valentine said the town would be retaining securities to bring the land back into “a safe and appropriate condition,” but replanting vegetation would be challenging with the prospect of a new application on-deck for the land.
In response to follow-up questions following the meeting, Valentine clarified the process whereby developers can be eligible for a refund of town fees if a project does not proceed.
"If a building permit is withdrawn by the applicant and substantial construction has not started, they would be eligible for a refund of the development charges and possibly a portion of the building permit fees as well," Valentine told CollingwoodToday.
Should Nutak proceed with an alternate proposal for the 380 First St. lands, Valentine said a planning process would be required.
"Once the planning component has concluded and the appropriate approvals are in place, the applicant could proceed to the building permit stage, where development charges would be due under the applicable bylaw at the time, along with any permit or other fees deemed to be necessary," she said.