What should go in Pearl's? Developer looking for suggestions

Source: The Bay Today | Dec 04, 2019

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Our philosophy is to listen to the community what they would like to see, rather than telling them what they should want.

A local development company has come up with a great idea...ask residents their opinion on what they'd like to see in their own community.

Here's a great example, the former Pearl's Jewellery building on Main West.  The owners packed up shop in August after running the store for more than 43 years. 

Now, a brand new local development company has acquired the property and plans to invigorate the site and wants to hear from you.

Rod Bilz, is the president of Remedy Developments of East Ferris and he told BayToday the company was formed in response to the city's mandate for growth.

"We recognize that the most efficient and economically responsible way for our city to grow is to redevelop or re-purpose underutilized spaces that are already serviced by the city and do not require any additional infrastructure. So Remedy Developments intends to target the downtown as well as West Ferris based on this principle."

Bilz says his company intends to take a different approach.

"We do not intend to tell the community what we are planning to build but would rather hear from the community what we really need, to complement the existing business portfolio that we already have downtown."

Bilz went to Facebook to ask the community what it would like to see in the former Pearls Jewellery property at 158 Main Street West, and the response has been overwhelming, reaching nearly 5,000 people in just a few days."

"There have already been lots of great ideas generated. We will be hosting a public brainstorming session at the property within the next two weeks to try and elicit additional ideas for the property and further develop those ideas in hopes of creating a community asset that supports the existing businesses, generates revenues for the City and helps create a sense of place for the Downtown along with the other business owners."

"Our philosophy is to listen to the community what they would like to see, rather than telling them what they should want," says the post. "So here's your chance. Tell us what you would like to see in this historic space. This is the original Harris Drug Store and was built in 1898. Feel free to suggest what would fit with this space that would become an asset to the downtown and the community in general."

The public session is scheduled for Thursday, December 12, at 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the former Pearl's location. 

There is limited capacity, and as of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday there were only 22 spots left.

You can reserve a seat here.

Bilz says one of the eight guiding principles of his company is to commit yourself to a place you love and that needs you.

"Find a place that you can get to know intimately, that can provide you a livelihood, and that you love enough to improve over the years. Projects will both enrich the sense of place and satisfy a market. Over time each new project completed will create benefits to the existing ones. Having a sense of purpose in development is our foundation. When you become known to your neighbors as someone who is truly committed to the place you live, you will start to attract information, opportunities, and allies that were not obvious at the outset. By putting a physical signal out there - like a building - that you care about a place and believe it is worthy of investment, you may inspire such loyalty in others too. This powerful effect underpins a city’s strength and creates a livable community."

See the seven other principles here.

Bilz adds the company will be taking small steps, to begin with.

"Achieving a goal one small step at a time is not only practical, it’s smart. No one can be certain if a business will survive, if construction will stay on budget, or what you’ll uncover behind the walls of a 100-year-old building."

And he wants to build things that give more than they take.

"Your buildings must earn their keep to you and the community if you want them to survive. This means they need to provide a cash flow to the developer and the municipality. Giving more to the community than you take is about priorities. Spend your time and money on the parts of your project that most affect the public. Your street-facing façades should look great even if that means a lower budget for the rear. People who interact with your building should feel glad it’s there."