Work is still underway on The Sydenham condo project in downtown Owen Sound. DENIS LANGLOIS/THE SUN TIMES
Owen Sound has granted a third extension to a development fee holiday agreement for Sydenham Properties’ condominium project, but councillors stressed they hope it will be the final request.“Perhaps the third time’s the charm,” Coun. Marion Koepke said during Monday’s council meeting. “But I’m certainly hoping that we don’t see it again because it gets to a point where enough is enough and we need to start being concerned about that.”A building permit for the 32-unit The Sydenham, which is under construction at 9th Street and 1st Avenue East, was issued in October 2015.The development charge for the project would have been $75,631, but council approved two-year development fee holidays for residential construction in both 2015 and 2017.The city’s initial moratorium agreement with Sydenham Properties stated that the seven-storey building would have to be ready for occupancy by March 1, 2018, for the fees to be waived.Council granted a one-year extension in March 2018 and extended the occupancy deadline a second time in January to June 30.Developer Ron Pirie requested a third extension – to Aug. 31 – on June 17.In a letter to city officials and interview with The Sun Times Thursday, Pirie said the company is working as quickly as possible to provide occupancy and only a few minor items remain to be finished.The main thing standing in the way, he said, is completing a second elevator, which is an occupancy requirement. The elevator contractor recently informed Pirie that due to internal staffing limitations, it could be another month or two before workers can return to finish the elevator.He asked the city for “a minimum of two additional months to allow us time to sort out this problem,” adding that requiring Sydenham Properties to pay the development fees “at this late date would add significant and unbudgeted financial burden to the project.”Council approved a staff recommendation to extend the deadline to Oct. 31 to “ensure that a subsequent request is not required.”Pirie said he’s happy with council’s vote.“It’s an appropriate decision. It was a limited extension of a couple months,” he said in an interview.“We are very close to satisfying the requirements of the fee holiday of getting an occupancy permit.”He said he now expects the elevator work will be finished in July.“They were supposed to be here in June and wrap this whole thing up for us – and that’s the prime reason – and they got delayed and they’re scheduled to be here now next week and take a week or two to finish and then that should be the last thing that we require,” he said.He said he’s just as eager as the city to see the project completed.Pam Coulter, director of community services, said The Sydenham project is a complex one that has “encountered unexpected issues that have delayed occupancy.” However, she said the city’s chief building official has reported that work is progressing well towards occupancy.The two-month extension, she said, is still within the timeline associated with the city’s current development charges bylaw, which expires March 1, 2020.