By Kevin Werner, News staff
Pen Equity’s Leger Xavier says the company is targeting the fall of 2014 to begin construction on its long-awaited Winona Crossing, a massive retail complex that includes a Walmart and Costco big box anchor tenants.
“It’s a very complicated process,” said Xavier, vice-president of leasing and development. “It has taken longer than expected.”
Hamilton council approved the rezoning application for the development in 2009, but over the last five years Pen Equity has been seeking necessary approvals from the city, the Hamilton Conservation Authority, and the provincial transportation ministry for a required GO Transit station within the development’s footprint, located at the corner of Fifty and South Service roads.
There was also an Ontario Municipal Board appeal brought by Citizens Assessing Development on the Niagara Escarpment (CADONE), a group created by current Ward 11 councillor Brenda Johnson.
The OMB appeal was settled between the two parties.
Company officials had been looking at a summer of 2014 to begin construction. Last year a woodlot located on the property was removed. Now possible construction could take place at the end of October.
Johnson said she has not received any notification or information from the company about their future plans for the property.
Last December councillors agreed to revise the zoning bylaw to add a 155,500 square-foot Costco to the 443,500-square-foot commercial development.
The plaza will also be able to accommodate the RBC and TD Canadian Trust, professional services, such as dental offices, barbershop, a Subway restaurant, Turtle Jacks and a Shoeless Joe’s restaurant.
Even though politicians approved the zoning changes, Johnson remained concerned about the traffic impact the development will have within the area, especially along Barton Street and Fifty Road.
The former Stop 50 Motel, located beside where the Walmart development is scheduled to be constructed, still remains part of the company’s plans.
Xavier said Pen Equity has an option to purchase the property for phase 2 of the development. It will be up to the current owner of the property to decide whether to demolish the structure.
Xavier would not describe the application discussions as difficult, saying it is simply part of a meticulous process that has to be done.
“We are happy we are getting through the final hurdles this summer,” he said.
The company’s site application plan had been submitted to the city in February 2013.
City officials had been discussing with the company such issues as servicing, urban design and traffic.
Xavier said the company has also been following the Fruitland –Winona Secondary Plan process, which is expected to be before the Ontario Municipal Board. Council did approve the controversial document earlier this year.
He said the plan will have some impact on the company’s Winona Crossing development, such as through installing water and sewers within the area.
He said the Fruitland-Winona Secondary Plan only highlights the need for commercial and retail development in the area, even after five years have elapsed.
“The market is still there,” he said. “We will be adding to the market.”