New life for former auto parts plant
Developer plans to renovate 'strategic property' in Kitchener
June 11, 2009 | Chuck Howitt | The Record | Link
KITCHENER - A former auto parts plant in downtown Kitchener could be turned into high-quality office and research space.
The former International Automotive Components plant, located at the corner of King and Breithaupt Streets, was recently purchased for $500,000 by David Gibson of Toronto.
Gibson is the chair of First Gulf Development Corp., a Mississauga-based commercial development firm. It is best known in this area for redeveloping Waterloo Town Square.
In an interview, he said he is retiring from First Gulf at the end of the year and purchased the Breithaupt Street plant through his own private company, Gibcor Holdings.
"It's a very strategic property, given all the things that are happening there," he said.
The plant is located on a prime downtown property in the heart of the city's "warehouse district." It is close to the new University of Waterloo health sciences campus, the Kaufman Lofts and the Lang Tannery redevelopment.
Gibson said the plant, a mishmash of old brick structures, additions and storage tanks, actually consists of four separate buildings developed over its long history.
Rather than tearing them down, he plans to gradually renovate the buildings as he can find tenants. The aim is to turn it into a "high-quality development including courtyards," he said.
"I think the market is very strong in that area for research and development and other high-tech users."
He has already hired the architectural firm Roberston Simmons to begin redesigning the property. The building has 250,000 square feet of space including basements and sits on 1.6 hectares of land.
Renovating old buildings has long been an interest of his, Gibson said.
A graduate in urban economics from Wilfrid Laurier University when it was known as Waterloo Lutheran University, he wants to continue working on projects in the Kitchener and Waterloo area, he said.
"I've always been interested in contributing to cities, doing mixed-use developments."
The facility has been empty since June 2008, when IACNA Soft Trim Canada, also known as International Automotive Components, closed the plant and put almost 90 people out of work. Gibson purchased the property from IACNA, based in Dearborn, Mich.
The original brick factory dates back to 1904, when workers began making rubber footwear at the facility.
Over its long history, the factory has also been owned by the Dominion Rubber Company, Uniroyal, Beckers Lay-Tech and Collins & Aikman.
Last edited by Spokes; 07-14-2010 at 05:57 PM.
they have had some fires there recently... I can't see anything happening soon but i hope it does!. Get rid off the ugly parts, put underground parking, etc.. Curious on the design they come up with
Any info on the damage the fires did?
The building's proximity to the tracks rules out any residential right?
Ok so that is indeed the project the architect was talking about? I thought so but also thought maybe it was the old Krug Furniture factory a few blocks over.
Here's to hoping this starts earlier than later. It's a eyesore right now and with this fixed up and the Tannery finishing up King/Victoria will be quite the corner for downtown office space.
Is there any way to incorporate some of the trackside sections into the anticipated multi-modal terminal?
July 14, 2010
Also, the future parking lot on the other side of Breithaupt will be a prime place for redevelopment down the road if Kitchener ever gets over it's fear of underground parking and doesn't cave into developers who are dead-set against anything but surface parking.
Thrilled this is getting going!! A very nice mix of old and new. I can see it being the next Tannery! Does the new building look 2 or 3 floors?
Also, looks like a bit of green space between the new building and the train tracks. Should fit in nicely once the inter modal station is built!
And the various courtyards are quite nice, some good use of space there if you ask me.
Is there not a building B in that site plan? haha
As for the demolishing of the King st building, while it's not ideal, and it will be missed, the new building looks really nice and modern and should contrast the old ones nicely.
Great news, that building was a eyesore, and the king st part with the glass won't be missed as spokes said.
Just noticed, Building A is only 2 floors. That kind of sucks, was hoping for 3. I wonder if they're just recladding the existing structure or rebuilding. Would just cladding in glass work?
Based on the site plan on the web site, the building facing King is being reclad, not demolished. The footprint is exactly the same as the existing building. Unfortunately, it looks like we'll be getting surface parking between Building A and the tracks -- not that that is any worse than what's there now. The site plan mentions "future underground parking", whatever that means.
Still, I give this project an A-. Replace surface parking with greenspace or high-quality buildings with underground parking and it gets an A. Replace the two-story building facing King with a 6-storey building with ground-floor retail and it gets an A+.
I love the courtyards, I love that they are retaining most of the historic buildings, and I love that downtown Kitchener is getting another 186,000 square feet of office space.
EDIT: Nevermind, didnt realize the "site plan" was a link and it clearly shows surface parking there. Well that's a shame. Down the road it could get built up, but I doubt it. While it's not ideal, assuming an inter modal station is built next door, that should help overshadow the surface lot.
Last edited by Spokes; 07-14-2010 at 10:01 PM.