I chatted briefly yesterday with Jim Braucher, Principal of Professional Design Group, a Northfield architectural and engineering firm, on the plans to redevelop the site of the Community Resource Bank and the old Aldsworth building overlooking Bridge Square with a historic-looking 4-story office building. I may be drinking the Kool-Aid but I’m not inclined to jump on the ‘save the Aldsworth’ bandwagon since only its facade was renovated in 1997. According to my Deep Throat at GBM, the interior structure is badly dilapidated. (continued)
The proposed building is not like the mixed-use Mendota Homes plan for the site announced four years ago. Local developer Jerry Anderson is functioning more as a catalyst for this project which will require businesses to buy up all the spaces (office condos) or it won’t be built.
In his column this week, Nfld News publisher/editor Sam Gett expressed surprise at the lack of retail planned for the development. He apparently doesn’t understand it.
The proposed building could ultimately include retail shops and restaurants if one or more buyers of the 8 or 9 office spaces chose to use/sublet them for that. Given current market conditions, a plan that even partially depended on leasing retail space would be foolish. (Personally, I’d love to see a fancy street-level restaurant there that also serves diners during the warm months on Bridge Square, Italian piazza-style — yes, with alcohol. See photo example here).
This building could spur the long-discussed retail development of the riverfront between Oolala and the Contended Cow and beyond to the Archer House (see the aerial images below). In this week’s Nfld News article about the development, Back to the future:
Not only would the project be a “shot in the arm” for businesses downtown, Jerry Anderson also believes the construction would help revitalize a portion of the Cannon River waterfront in downtown. As part of his designs for the building, Anderson is including a large atrium on the northwest corner of the complex, facing the river, and expanded sidewalk access to the river between this project and adjacent store Oo La La [sic Oolala].
- Ray Cox, Northfield Construction Company, would be the builder. (Full disclosure: Cox is a client of mine.)
- Professional Design Group presents the plan to the Northfield Heritage Preservation Commission on Nov. 19.
- Other background: On May 19, 2005, Ross Currier blogged the news that developer John Mathern of Mendota Homes was in negotiations to purchase the downtown location of Community Resource Bank (then called Community National Bank) and tear it down to build a mixed-use, historic-looking building (retail, office space, residential condos). A few months later, Mathern announced his plans (Nfld News article). That plan ultimately collapsed and in 2008, First National Bank of Northfield foreclosed on Mathern.
Images below courtesy of Professional Design Group. Click any thumbnail to see a medium-sized image, then click the green arrow to see a full-sized version; use the arrows to scroll left or right through the set.