Wonderful Waterloo Archive

This site is maintained by Sam Nabi as a record of the vibrant Wonderful Waterloo community, which was taken offline in 2014. This site is a partial archive, containing some posts from 2009-2013. To read more about the recovery effort and access the data in a machine-readable format, check out the GitHub page.

U/C Waterscape | 38 , 38 m | 12 , 12 fl | Tower 1 U/C

Post #5
12-23-2009 11:18 PM

Waterscape on the Grand River
170 Water Street North, Cambridge
Website: www.waterscape.ca
Developer: Haastown Group of Companies
Architect: Arsenault Architect Inc.

Two phase condominium development each with a 12-storey, 115 unit tower located beside the Grand River.
It is complete with 31 parking spaces on grade and 263 underground spaces.
Penthouse level amenity space includes a Fitness Centre, Lounge and an outdoor roof deck.

Phase 1

Post #6
12-23-2009 11:21 PM

Joined Dec 2009
3622 posts

Developer incentives go before councillors
October 29, 2007

Cambridge and Waterloo Region taxpayers may have to pay almost $4.2 million to help a Richmond Hill developer build two, 12-storey luxury condominium towers on the contaminated site of a former factory.

Approval in principle of the first half of the Waterscape redevelopment on the Grand River will be in front of Cambridge council tonight.

Delegations are welcome at the meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in the old city hall at 46 Dickson St.

Haastown Holdings already has approval to build its Waterscape condos at Water and Ainslie streets in Galt.

What's before Cambridge council tonight is the site plan, which lays out in detail exactly how the first phase of the $120-million project will unfold on the one-time Dobbie textile factory site, which has been a vacant for two decades.

Paul de Haas, the Haastown Holdings president, has said in the past that a $1.5-million cleanup is expected to remove 1,200 tonnes of soil laced with coal tar.

Units in the Waterscape project would sell for $125,000 to $400,000 in the first building.

A staff report to council recommends financial incentives and public costs to encourage the redevelopment to proceed and to generate long-term tax dollars.

The incentives break down this way:

$2.3 million: City and region development charges, which would be waived because the site is in a designated core urban area.

$345,000: A city grant based on $1,500 for each of the 230 apartments to help offset contamination cleanup costs.

$641,000: The total of city and region grants over the next decade to offset increased property taxes that the new buildings would create. This would help the developer cover upfront clean up costs.

$467,000: City's share of the $550,000 cost to move a trunk sanitary sewer off the private property and into the Water Street Road allowance.

$440,000: Unpaid property taxes on the property, accumulated by previous owners, would be waived.

City staff recommend council approve the site plan, on the condition the cleanup plan is approved by the Ontario Environment Ministry.

Regional road officials would need to approve the main entrance of the project at Water and Simcoe streets, and the Grand River Conservation Authority would have to approve work close to the flood berm along the western edge of the property.

City staff and the developer tweaked the tower locations to maintain public views of the river. The University of Waterloo architecture school helped with computer simulations to make the site changes.

Haastown is also talking with the city about building a retirement home and "assisted-living facility" on the southern half of the property.

This is not part of the recommendation before council tonight.

City and conservation authority staff say seniors homes are banned in flood plains such as the Water Street property because of problems evacuating residents and dangers to rescuers in a flood.

City staff say any such proposal must ensure "dry land emergency access is available."

Condo project wins city's help
October 30, 2007

Giving $4.2 million in public money to help build luxury condominiums is hard for Jack Connell to swallow.

"Government has no place in such real estate development for private profit," he said last night as council considered plans for a $120-million Waterscape development by the Grand River at Water and Ainslie streets. "How many other developers will want the same considerations for their developments?"

Uwe Kretchman urged council to halve the public money allocated to help bring the project to reality. He called it "one heck of a sweet deal."

He suggested only the $2.3 million in development charges be waived, and said the city should negotiate harder to reduce what appears to be an $18,000 per unit subsidy for each of the 230 condominiums.

But council stood by its incentives, which encourage developers to foot most of the cost of cleaning up contaminated factory sites, like the former Dobbie textile mill, where 230 condominium units are proposed in two, 12-storey towers.

Coun. Gary Price said if developers don't do the cleanup, the city would have to.

"In the end that would cost us a lot more in tax dollars than what we are doing right here."

Waterscape developer Paul de Haas said the project would not proceed without the financial help from the city.

"This type of site is difficult to develop."

Coun. Pam Wolf didn't like all the public money going to help the project.

"This deal seems a bit one- sided.

Coun. Ben Tucci dismissed Wolf's concerns.

"At the end of the day, if this development falls through, you've got zero (tax) dollars collected on this property."

Smart deal, Cambridge
November 05, 2007

Should a city hall give millions of public dollars to a developer so he can build luxury condominiums and bank the profits? The City of Cambridge has done just this, subsidizing private business person Paul de Haas to the tune of $4.2 million. And what's more, despite the criticism dumped on it, the city was absolutely right to do so.

For 30 years, a property contaminated with coal tar has stood as a vacant eyesore at the gateway to Galt, at Water and Ainslie streets. Plans to build on it collapsed in the mid-1980s because of the high cost of fixing the site's environmental problems. Meanwhile, $400,000 in back taxes owed to the city remain unpaid. Sticking with the status quo is a losing situation for everyone.

Mindful of this, city council rightly decided to step in and finally make things happen. It will waive the development charges that would normally be billed to the developer. Moreover, the city will give a hefty subsidy -- a citizens delegation put it at roughly $18,000 a unit -- to each of the 230 condominiums that will be built. The total cost to taxpayers is $4.2 million. And, yes, that looks steep.

But look at the returns on the city's investment: It will turn an abandoned industrial site into desirable residential property and help revitalize an urban core.

It will get an environmentally clean site because the developer will dig up and remove the coal tar that now contaminates the area. It will get a major project, because the developer will build two, 12-storey towers with 230 units worth $120 million.

From these condominiums, the city will get something it's not getting from the property today: tax revenue. And in time, those taxes should more than cover the city's payout to the developer. All this, by the way, satisfy the demands of a new provincial policy that calls for more intense growth in the downtowns of cities like Cambridge. And it's also worth noting that the city has not given this developer special treatment. It's simply acting according to city policies that would assist any developer in similar circumstances trying to reclaim old industrial land.

Yes, the city could have done nothing and let the site sit empty for another three decades. Yes, the city could have paid millions to clean up the site on its own and then sell it or use it as a park. But none of those alternatives beat what the city has done. This is one occasion where city council deserves cheers not jeers. It got this one right.

Cleanup rules threaten condos
Developer asks Cambridge for help getting riverside project going
December 10, 2007 - KEVIN SWAYZE, RECORD STAFF

A $120-million luxury condominium project is in "great jeopardy" unless city council waives its own rules and allows construction to start before a contaminated part of the downtown property is cleaned up.

Waterscape developer Paul de Haas is scheduled to appeal to council tonight for help getting the 230-home project back on track.

He wants to put a contaminated part of the property under separate legal ownership, which would allow him to go ahead with the condo project on the remaining land.

The city has said the land, a former factory site on Water Street at the north junction of Ainslie Street, must be cleaned up before it is severed.

The Environment Ministry is also looking at more stringent requirements for cleaning up buried coal tar to ensure it doesn't spread to the Grand River just metres away.

But in a letter to council, de Haas suggests the cleanup requirements are standing in the way of his 12-storey condo towers.

He says severing the contaminated part of the land would allow him to obtain loans to build the two towers on the north half, while delaying the need to clean up and build on the southern half.

The letter says a business partner planning to develop a retirement complex on the south half of the 1.4 hectare property has backed out. De Haas says he's confident a new partner will be found, but not in time to meet city requirements to get construction started quickly on the condo project on the north half of the site.

"The severance is vital to the financing and structuring of the Waterscape project," he says.

He offered the city a $50,000 letter of credit "as a gesture of a good faith guarantee that we will complete the remediation of the south land within 36 months" of receiving Environment Ministry approval of a cleanup plan.

That's expected shortly, he said.

"Although not conforming to the policy, we ask that council accept this as another signal of my company's undivided commitment to this project."

Already, de Haas said, his company has spent $400,000 on consulting fees and testing of the one-time home of the Galt Gas Works, which operated there from 1887 to 1911. Coal tar is a by-product of coal-gas production. It is considered a health risk and causes cancer

The gas plant was demolished in the 1920s to make way for a textile mill, which was demolished in the 1980s, in anticipation of a residential building project.

De Haas said the rejuvenation of the eyesore property is "logistically complex and saddled with numerous challenges -- many more than we ever anticipated."

Council considers the request from deHaas tonight in a meeting starting at 6 p.m. in historic city hall.

City staff recommend council reject the request to ignore city rules aimed at protecting taxpayers from getting stuck with expensive cleanups.

Council has already approved the Waterscape plan, which includes $4.2 million in public money to help clean up the site, deferral of property taxes and move a public sewer line from the middle of the property.

Most of the money comes from long-standing city programs to encourage developers to clean up old factory sites in the Galt, Preston and Hespeler cores.

Waterscape is also exempt from height limits imposed across the rest of old Galt because the project application was filed at city hall before the new rules were imposed in May.

Condos given break on cleanup
Developer gets go-ahead to build
December 12, 2007

City council is giving more help to a developer planning 230 luxury condominiums on a contaminated property along the Grand River.

Waterscape on the Grand will be exempt from a city policy requiring the property be cleaned up before construction goes ahead, council decided this week.

Paul de Haas of Hasstown Holdings promised he would redevelop the whole property at Water Street North and Ainslie Street if allowed to put the heavily contaminated southern half under separate ownership.

De Haas said he needs time to allow financing to proceed on the $60-million condo towers on the north side of the property.

The south half, contaminated with coal tar, can be cleaned up and developed within three years, he said.

Councillors Pam Wolf and Rick Cowsill were uncomfortable giving any more breaks to the developer.

They wanted a guarantee that taxpayers won't be stuck cleaning up the site.

"It is the developer who should take this risk and take the profit," Wolf said.

The city usually demands that contamination be removed from a site before allowing part of it to be transferred to a new owner.

If not, the city asks for a letter of credit to cover the possible cleanup cost, should taxpayers ever be stuck with the bill.

De Haas said it would be "ludicrous" to think his company would walk away from such a prime a location.

He offered a $50,000 letter of credit, though the coal-tar cleanup is estimated to be at least $423,000.

Wolf argued against giving de Haas any more city help on top of tax breaks and more than $4 million in incentives.

De Haas said much of that money won't flow until the site is cleaned up, so he's motivated to follow through on his promises.

The city is also paying to move a public sewer line off the property.

The decision to exempt the developer from cleanup goes against a city staff recommendation.

Staff wanted financial security to at least match the cost of cleanup.

Council rejected that idea while approving the land severance.

Coun. Gary Price supported severance without the usual city environmental conditions.

"This is probably the closest we've come to getting the site clean in over 100 years," he said.

"As far as I'm concerned, we're not at risk for anything on the site. The property owners are."

The developer needs the approval of Ontario's Environment Ministry before starting any construction, Price said.

City council has already approved the site plan in principal, but it isn't complete, said planning commissioner Janet Babcock. The city is awaiting approvals from the Environment Ministry, along with Waterloo Region's approval of driveway entrances onto Water Street.
Post #7
12-24-2009 12:04 AM

Joined Dec 2009
3622 posts
A "skyline" is born:




Model Suite Pictures: http://www.waterscape.ca/features.php

Post #1543
02-02-2010 03:56 PM

Joined Dec 2009
3622 posts
cc LRT Letters to letters@wonderfulwaterloo.com
February 2, 2010

Post #1545
02-02-2010 04:01 PM

Bauer Lofts, Waterloo
Joined Dec 2009
667 posts
It looks like a student housing building right now with all those small windows.
Post #1552
02-02-2010 05:21 PM

Conurbation Member
Joined Dec 2009
5006 posts
They're bigger than the ones on the Lester St Apartment haha
Post #1999
02-12-2010 12:34 PM

Joined Dec 2009
3622 posts
cc LRT Letters to letters@wonderfulwaterloo.com
Environmental engineering
Prime site moves from contamination to condo in Cambridge, Ontario
PAT BRENNAN; correspondent - CAMBRIDGE, Ont.
February 8, 2010

A 12-storey condo project underway on the banks of the Grand River is one of the tallest buildings in Ontario so far to use insulating concrete form technology.

It’s one of the prettiest sites in Cambridge. The large, empty lot sits beside the Grand River where it tumbles over a waterfall just before flowing into downtown Galt.

Developers have fancied the property for years, but the suitors soon packed their bags and left town after learning about its heritage.

There’s a reason that riverside lot sat abandoned for half a century. It was the original home of Galt Gas Works, a smelter that extracted coal oil from coal and eventually left carcinogens and other toxins in the ground.

Cambridge mayor Doug Craig says the two-acre lot on the river is one of the most attractive sites in Cambridge, but also one of the most contaminated.

Developer Paul de Haas doesn’t fear brownfield sites. He has converted industrial brownfield sites in the city cores of Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph and Toronto into attractive residential projects. And he’s in the midst of doing just that to Cambridge’s Galt Gas Works site on the Grand.

A new provincial act has helped de Haas and other developers tackle such challenges. The TIF (tax increment financing) program allows municipalities to use tax dollars to encourage developers to rehabilitate contaminated sites in municipal core areas.

Future property tax revenue from a cleaned-up site rehabilitated for residential or commercial use goes to the developer for a specified period or amount to offset the additional costs of the clean up.

It took de Haas, president of Haastown Development Group, more than four years to get a building permit for his riverside project, but today the Waterscape condominium is rising on the site.

De Haas says he could never have considered building on the Grand’s east bank without the TIF program, but he adds “we really need a better attitude of co-operation between private business and the various levels of government if we are going to convert abandoned brownfields in the urban core to residential use,” said de Haas.

“There are some wonderful sites that can be put to good use in the cities, but it is much easier for a developer to put housing out on green agricultural lands than it is to clean up old industrial sites,” said de Haas.

He said municipal politicians usually understand the financial restrictions on resurrecting contaminated sites, but says too often bureaucratic red tape and officious bureaucrats hamper or thwart the wishes of the elected officials.

To get his Waterscape project underway in Cambridge de Haas gives credits Mayor Craig and Ben Tucci, the city councilor for that area.

“They were instrumental in getting the other major approval bodies in sync with one another — namely The Region of Waterloo, The Ministry of Environment, The Grand River Conservation Authority. Their efforts were extremely strong during the credit crisis in the fall of 2008 when the project financing was set to expire if all permits were not in place by Oct. 31.”

The 12-storey condominium will be one of the tallest buildings in the province built with insulating concrete forms (ICF). Extruded polystyrene blocks are snapped together like giant Lego blocks and concrete is poured into the form, along with reinforcing steel. The form stays on the finished wall, adding two to three inches of insulating foam on both sides.

The concrete floor panels are precast off site and lifted into place by a large mobile crane on the site, said Greg Pannia, general manager at Aurora’s Elite Building Group, which specializes in ICF construction.

Pannia said the ICF method significantly reduces construction debris at the site, cuts the need for disposable wood framing and reduces energy required for heating and cooling the structure.

Because of its location beside the Grand River de Haas hired EBS Engineering and Construction of Breslau, Ont. to drill 720 helical pilings 40 feet down to bedrock to stabilize the footings and foundation.

There will be 115 suites in the building with prices starting at $159,900 for a one bedroom residence with 528 sq. ft. and ranging up to 1,405 sq. ft. for $484,900.

Ciancone and de Haas plan to work together to clean up the contaminated south end of the Waterscape site. De Haas proposes a second phase of Waterscape on the south end of the property, adjacent to Ciancone’s restaurant.

Mayor Craig said the Waterscape project at the entrance to downtown Galt has triggered interest in rehabilitating other brownfield sites in the city core.

Drayton Theatres proposes to build a 600-seat live theatre a couple blocks south of Waterscape. The new centre will also serve as the corporate headquarters for the five other theatres Drayton operates in southwestern Ontario.
Post #2011
02-12-2010 09:53 PM

Bauer Lofts, Waterloo
Joined Dec 2009
667 posts
I used to live by this development and they are going have some major traffic problems with this. Unless they exit/enter further down the site. Only thing is that would suck for people heading towards GCI they would have to cut down the street where Shoppers is then turn left to head that way.

The surroundings of this area troubles me. The only plus for this project is the view/river. The area sucks bad. It's the ghetto actually. But setting that aside there is nothing around it, just a homeless shelter, a shoppers, and a student project. You can't walk to anything other the those places and a Food basics (which only proves my point of the area). Downtown is a hike from this and even if it wasn't there isn't anything down there anyways.

I'm not a huge cambridge fan but this is a step forward and might bring some more developments but I doubt it. Most people in cambridge don't like condos. The joke I often tell is "if it's not a Walmart it won't survive".. Sad thing is there is truth to that statement.
Post #2765
03-09-2010 10:10 AM

Town Member
Joined Mar 2010
339 posts
March 6, 2010

8 floors

Post #2814
03-10-2010 12:16 AM

Joined Dec 2009
3622 posts
Quote Originally Posted by Urban_Enthusiast86 View Post
March 6, 2009
Thanks for the year-old photos! The building seems to be shrinking overtime, perhaps this is the Curious Case of Waterscape?
Post #2819
03-10-2010 01:08 AM

Town Member
Joined Mar 2010
339 posts
Quote Originally Posted by UrbanWaterloo View Post
Thanks for the year-old photos! The building seems to be shrinking overtime, perhaps this is the Curious Case of Waterscape?
Corrected it.
Post #2865
03-11-2010 12:05 AM

Joined Dec 2009
3622 posts
Cool, just joking btw. Nice to see it's going up fairly fast: 2 floors from early February to early March.
Post #3944
04-06-2010 09:43 AM

Joined Dec 2009
3622 posts
Working on the 10th floor now.

April 6, 2010

Post #5639
04-26-2010 05:41 PM

Town Member
Joined Mar 2010
339 posts
April 26th, 2010

Close up.

Crane up south of the site (phase 2?)

From Centennial Park

I love this view from Water street, right around GCI. It looks like you're driving right into a building...the same way it appears when driving towards Bauer Lofts from midtown.

Post #5641
04-26-2010 06:24 PM

Joined Dec 2009
3622 posts
Cool shots, just one more floor to go! Has anyone been on the western side of the river, to see how reality compares to the rendering of Vantage Point 5: Rowing Club (in post 1)?
Post #6711
05-13-2010 08:20 AM

Conurbation Member
Joined Dec 2009
5006 posts
Condo exterior in Cambridge to be downgraded

May 13, 2010
By Kevin Swayze, Record staff

CAMBRIDGE — The $30 million Waterscape condominium tower won’t look quite as fancy as pictured in the original sales brochures.

Monday, city council agreed to let Haastown Holdings simplify exterior finishes about to be applied to the 12-storey, 115-unit building overlooking the Grand River at the north junction of Water and Ainslie streets.

Prospective purchasers of units in the building know about the changes and have no objections, said developer Paul de Haas.

Poor soil conditions forced changes in design as work proceeded, to reduce the weight of the building. A stucco finish instead of man-made stone is also an attempt to improve a busy exterior finish on the building, he said.

City staff don’t like simplifying the architectural details, nor does Pauline Todkill, a member of Heritage Cambridge.

“I don’t think these changes are insignificant,” Todkill said.

The building is promoted as a landmark along the Grand River that’s intended to blend in with the historic stone and brick architecture of the area, she said. Changes would also impact the proposed second twin condominium tower planned beside it.

“I shudder to think what the people from old Galt, known as the Granite City, would say to stucco,” Todkill said.

Six purchasers of Waterscape condominium units sent letters to council supporting the changes, urging the city to let Waterscape get on with finishing the project.

“I have sold my home and would really like to move into this Waterscape project and asking the city of Cambridge to get on with it so we can move in an enjoy our stay in Cambridge,” said Norman Hostler.

Greg McDonnell said he was “greatly disappointed with the seemingly arbitrary obstacles and delays the city has thrown in the path of . . . the Waterscape project over the past four years.”

In debate last week, Coun. Gary Price was worried residents of the new condominium units didn’t know about the changes.

He wasn’t swayed by what he heard Monday. He joined with Coun. Pam Wolf in voting against the changes. The rest of council endorsed the changes, so they can proceed.

There’s nothing wrong with a plainer exterior finish for the Waterscape tower, said Rick Haldenby, director of the University of Waterloo school of architecture.

Haldenby was part of a city-requested peer-review of the changes.

“In general I am pleased” with the revisions, he said in an email to the city.

He doesn’t fret over the loss of man-made stone covering the lower four-floors of the building exterior — and notes it has been unsuccessfully attempted recently on other buildings in the region.

Post #6712
05-13-2010 08:21 AM

Conurbation Member
Joined Dec 2009
5006 posts
This is why we have this stucco shit everywhere in this region!! Our councillors thing its a viable alternative to good products like stone. Give me a break.
Post #6723
05-13-2010 08:57 AM

Bauer Lofts, Waterloo
Joined Dec 2009
667 posts
What a joke....I would back out of my unit if I bought one there. So now people paid 220-400k on a building that resembles student housing on a street with nothing on it but a shoppers and a homeless shelter..hmmm..

Plus I think they made the windows smaller then what was originally in the brochure.
Post #6725
05-13-2010 10:11 AM

Town Member
Joined Feb 2010
261 posts
Post #6729
05-13-2010 10:36 AM

Conurbation Member
Joined Dec 2009
5006 posts
If I had bought there I'd be pissed. Then again I might be so fed up with the delays Id just say, just finish the damn thing. It's just a shame because this building could have been quite nice. The shell of it is nicely done I think, with windows a little bit bigger and good cladding, it'd be great.

Maybe this will be an example of stucco looking good. Not holding my breath though.

Further illustrates that there are very few great residential projects in Waterloo Region. Up next...Centre Block turns stucco!