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Galt Post Office renovation | planning
Galt Post Office Renovation
12 1/2 Water Street South, Cambridge
Architect: RDH Architects
Project: The project will see the 127-year-old building become a multi-floor "library of the future," containing fewer traditional bookshelves and more space for sound recording, 3D printers, live performances, children's activities and a café.

Current render

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Previous concept

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Approx location

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Current site condition

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Architects outline plan for historic Galt post office

June 4, 2014 | Chris Herhalt | The Record | LINK

Quote:CAMBRIDGE — The plan to ensconce a restaurant, library and new age creative spaces in Galt's 130-year-old post office got a green light Tuesday from heritage architects charged with planning the preservation of the building.
"Your glass is more than half full with what you're starting with," architect Andrew Pruss, of Toronto firm ERA Architects, told about 40 people at Cambridge City Hall on Tuesday.

The old post office on Water Street, which once served as a bar and nightclub until the mid-2000s, will house a restaurant, a black box theatre for children, sound and film editing space, a traditional library branch, a children's centre, and a "maker" space with 3D printers, a laser cutter and other tools, said Cambridge Libraries and Galleries chief executive officer Greg Hayton.

"We envision a future flagship for what the library is becoming, which is a place for ideas," Hayton said.

Pruss said the building, designed by Thomas Fuller, who also created Canada's first parliament building which burnt down in 1916, is holding up as well as any 130-year-old building would.

Its roof, limestone and granite stone masonry and bell clock mechanism must be restored or replaced entirely. Its main entrance will have to be made wheelchair accessible.

The building has no floors, but Pruss and his colleague, Edwin Rowse, said the interior of the building isn't heritage protected and can be altered extensively to suit the city's needs.

Pruss and Rowse said a pair of existing additions, one on the rear of the property merging into the barrier alongside the Grand River, and another on the property's side that houses a stairwell, should be knocked down to make room for a more suitable addition that complements the appearance of the main building.

"As an old building, it's got its problems in order to be adapted to suit a modern library," Rowse said. "Constraints in an old building are often a very creative thing. It stimulates people to find different solutions."

Although many design characteristics have yet to be determined, ERA said the city plans to build new additions at the side and rear of the property that will boost usable space by half, from roughly 12,000 square feet over four floors to 18,000 square feet.

The cost to renovate and expand the heritage building is about $10 million, said the city's director of sustainable design and development, Bob Paul, after the meeting concluded. The city purchased the building in 2012 for $1 million.

Paul confirmed negotiations with potential restaurant operators are ongoing, but the names of private firms seeking to run the restaurant in the building's main floor cannot be disclosed.

The city aims to have a full design by December and the renovation work completed by the end of 2016.
City councillors will vote on whether to approve the heritage master plan for the project at a meeting scheduled for June 23.

Cambridge approves $12M Galt post office revamp
July 15, 2014 | CBC.ca | LINK

Quote:Cambridge city councillors have voted eight to one in favour of a $12-million renovation to the old post office on Water Street in downtown Galt despite public opposition to the proposed design.

RDH Architects, the firm chosen to reimagine the historic building, presented council with the preferred design on Monday, four days after they were first made public. The design involves restoring the brick facade of the original structure and adding a 7,000-square-foot glass addition to the west side facing the Grand River. 

"This design, quite frankly, is one of the ugliest I've ever seen," said Cambridge resident John Mitchell after the design had been approved. The glass addition will distract people from seeing the post office from the river, he added.

Other residents expressed concerns about the size of the addition, the restaurant that is supposed to occupy the ground floor and the speed at which this project is moving forward.

"The designs came out last Thursday. They're going for approval tonight. That's four days," said Christine Rier, who calls herself a passionate heritage advocate. "I've worked on ... heritage issues that have taken over two years."

Although opposition to the project was strong at Monday's meeting, Mayor Doug Craig says council has to consider all points of view when making a decision, "not just the delegations that are opposed."

The city hopes put out tenders this fall for a company to restore the brick facade of the old building next year. It hopes to have the whole project complete by December 2016.
Such an amazing building. Can't wait to see what they've got planned.
City to begin tender process for Galt Post Office renovation
September 23, 2014 | Chris Herhalt | The Record | LINK

Quote:CAMBRIDGE — Construction at the site of Galt's Old Post Office could begin as soon as early May after Cambridge council approved moving to the tender stage on the $12-million project as early as the end of January 2015.

Councillor unanimously endorsed the revised design schematic of the project at a meeting Monday evening, which saw some of the glass-and-steel addition to the heritage structure tapered and lowered in response to public criticism.

Architect Bob Goyeche of RDH Architects said the detailed design of the building, which will contain a reading space, outdoor terrace, café, 3D printing lab, theatre space and a children's play area, will be completed by the end of October.

The changes made to the design since it was unveiled in July appeared to have won over an early critic, Coun. Rick Cowsill.

"Some time ago, you all knew I was not really in favour of what was presented," he said of the design. "This is far better than was presented."

Outgoing Coun. Ben Tucci said the glass-and-steel frame wrapping around the river-facing side of the building "is not what everyone can support," but the fact that the city incorporated changes to the design in response to public feedback "showed that we listened to a certain extent."

The city's own Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee is now fully in favour of the design

The property will serve as the Idea Exchange's new Galt wing, with an emphasis on emerging library trends such as digital media consumption, over traditional shelves of physical books.

Cambridge Mayor Doug Craig said the timetable will allow contractors "to get a full construction season in" and possibly repair and restore "the deteriorating heritage aspects of the building.
Borrowing costs add to Galt Post Office renovation price tag
October 21, 2014 | Chris Herhalt | The Record | LINK

Quote:CAMBRIDGE — Borrowing costs will push the price tag to design, renovate and expand the historic Old Post Office building in Galt into a library to more than $17 million by 2023, according to the city's 10-year capital forecast.

That figure is considerably higher than the $12.5-million figure city officials, councillors and Mayor Doug Craig have cited when discussing the project. It also excludes the $950,000 the city paid to buy the building in 2012.

The project will see the 127-year-old building become a multi-floor "library of the future," containing fewer traditional bookshelves and more space for sound recording, 3D printers, live performances, children's activities and a café.

Proponents of the project say it gives the Queen's Square Library branch a much-needed expansion while restoring the decaying stone work and rotting floorboards of a building designed by Thomas Fuller, the same architect behind Canada's Parliament buildings.

Craig has said repeatedly that the building's redevelopment is the key to attracting people, especially youth, to Galt's downtown, and reinforcing the city's commitment to heritage preservation.

But despite public concerns about what the finished building will or will not contain and how it will look, few of the seven people running to be Cambridge's next mayor said they would cancel the project.

When the project is fully paid off in 30 years, the cost of design and construction, including interest, will be approximately $19 million.

At a debate last week, only mayoral candidate Sardool Bhogal said he'd cancel the project if elected.

Fellow challenger Linda Whetham said she would pay only to restore the building to its former pristine state, sans library or café, and then sell it to a private developer.

"They're the ones who should be spending $11 million on it."

Sanda Hill said the city should have used a public-private partnership to finance the building's renovation.

Andrew Johnson said the city is in a "train has left the station situation" regarding the project, whose stated cost has grown from roughly $6 million to $12.5 million over the years as the planned footprint of the building grew.

Christine Rier, a supporter of the concept who has been following the project closely, said it's been hard to find out details about the renovation and expansion.

"It's just been difficult to get information," she said of her participation in information meetings about the project, adding members of the public "are not encouraged to ask questions" when the project is discussed.
I hope the address stays as 12 and a half. I like the look of the renders.
This is the calibre of project that somewhere like Galt deserves. A downtown with the Grand River running through it deserves to be vibrant and have contemporary, relevant architecture and community hubs like this one.

This is definitely one of the projects in the Region I am most excited about.
Aaaand that's all folks.

Quote:Former Galt post office eatery deal officially falls through

Cancellation of a partnership between the city and Pearle Hospitality to operate a restaurant inside the former Galt post office has been attributed to “varying visions for the use of space,” according to a city news release issued today (April 13).

The release offered no other details regarding the cancellation and no comments from Pearle Hospitality, formerly the Landmark Group. Previous attempts to reach the company president regarding suggestions the deal was falling through went unanswered.
Too much pressure on the city for spending all of that money maybe?
The private partner backed out. The city and library are still involved, but they need a new restaurant partner.
That glass box hanging off the 2nd floor looks ridiculous.
I used to be the mayor of sim city. I know what I am talking about.
This project has received $832,000 in funding from the Federal government.

They've been doing some work on the site; there was a crane at work when I drove through this afternoon.

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