The company seeking zoning approval to build four restaurants, a hotel and a gas station at the Heritage Grove shopping complex in Owen Sound says it has tenants “ready to sign leases” for most of those buildings.“These amendments are directly related to tenant requests. These aren’t speculative,” Robert Russell, planning consultant for Villarboit Development Corp., told council Monday during a public meeting on the company’s application.“These amendments are intended for businesses that want to locate in Owen Sound, but they haven’t found another site that’s suitable for them. This is the site they chose.”Villarboit president Guery Goyo would not reveal to The Sun Times the names of the prospective tenants.He would say only that the tenants want construction to begin relatively soon.“They’ve also signed letters of understanding, which means they would like to be in within 12 to 24 months,” he said.The public meeting was a chance for council to hear comments on Villarboit’s request to add hotel, convenience store and gas bar/car wash as permitted uses on its property at 2125 16th St. E.That same zoning amendment application also seeks to modify certain site-specific regulations for the property, such as raising the height allowed for the hotel from 10 to 19 metres and increasing the maximum combined gross floor area permitted for all small restaurants that are under 325 square metres.The company’s site plan includes a 75-room, 3,716-square-metre (40,000-square-foot) hotel in the northeast corner of the site, along with a gas bar – with four pump stations, a convenience store and quick-service restaurant with drive-thru – and four restaurants in various other locations in the northern section of the property.Aside from Russell, who addressed council on behalf of Villarboit, only one other person spoke on the applications.Lorelie Spencer, a planner representing the mortgagee of the former Branningham Grove property across the street from Heritage Grove, said Villarboit’s development plan is unwarranted given the amount of vacant commercial space downtown and in Heritage Place Mall that could house smaller restaurants and the available commercial lands near the property that currently permit the proposed uses, including the site across the street.Villarboit still owns that property, which is for sale by the mortgagee under power of sale, council heard.Spencer said there are five gas stations, seven large-scale restaurants and a number of small-scale and drive-thru restaurants near the property.“There are current existing landowners and businesses which may be impacted by this zoning bylaw amendment,” she said.The amendment application is premature, she added, since Villarboit’s market impact study is still being peer reviewed on the city’s behalf.She said the city’s decision to prohibit certain uses on the Villarboit property was based on the findings of the last peer-reviewed market impact study for the development.Villarboit retained urbanMetrics to complete a new market impact study for its development.That document says the proposed hotel, gas station and restaurants are “all complementary uses that will benefit from their co-location at Heritage Grove Centre” and would serve “the growing population” in the Sydenham Heights planning area, which is where several large-scale residential subdivisions are being proposed by landowners.It says the proposed upper mid-scale hotel, even after Legacy Hospitality Management & Development completes its 100-room hotel on nearby 16th Avenue East, “is not anticipated to have a critical impact on the existing hotel and motel supply within Owen Sound.”An analysis of comparable Ontario municipalities found there is opportunity to grow the supply of hotel rooms in Owen Sound, the study says.Russell said Villarboit, whose Heritage Grove development now includes seven stores including a Winners and Value Village, is “not asking for anything new” in its zoning amendment application, but wants city hall to reinstate uses that were once permitted on the property.He said restaurants are allowed on the site now, but Villarboit wants permission to have more smaller restaurant space.Since submitting its original application, Russell said Villarboit has reduced the proposed number of new restaurants from six to four and agreed to phase-in construction of those buildings.“This was a discussion we had with town staff in an effort to bring in the restaurants as development on the site and the hotel and other developments around start generating the market demand for the restaurants,” he said.The updated market study has determined, he said, that the proposed new uses could not be located in the city’s core.“We are not taking away from any other downtown landlord who these uses might want to locate in,” he said. “These are uses that need large sites. There are no large sites downtown.“They also provide a different product and they’ll appeal to a different market than the people who shop downtown.”The next step in the planning process is for city staff to review all of the comments received on the zoning bylaw amendment application and write up a recommendation report for council.The city expects that report will be ready in early fall.