In 2017, when there was a lot of talk about vitalizing the downtown, it was proposed to spend $1.5M on a multi purpose square behind Victoria Hall. Around the same time, a developer wanted to build “Live and Work” Condos on the “Quigley” lot across the road at 202 Second Street. However, the square depended on Provincial or Federal money which was not forthcoming so it was put on hold. Then the Farmers’ Market moved across Albert Street to Rotary Park and the Condos were shelved (more details on these below). The owner tried to sell the lot for more than $2M and meanwhile the empty lot was leased to the Town on a month to month basis for $2500 a month. The lot currently provides 184 parking spaces and is an important downtown parking area.
In late 2003, the Hardware store known as “Quigleys” was closed and demolished. In 2014, the new owner had an architect develop plans to build Townhomes there and these were approved and included spaces for stores on the ground floor. These would have faced Second Street and perhaps Albert Street. The architect was still displaying the design on his web site (but isn’t now) and the developer’s website is still online. I heard that only one Condo was sold so the developer gave up. Meanwhile, the owner leased the lot to the Town on a month to month basis and actively tried to sell the land complete with approved development plans.
Over the last 10 years, ideas for vitalizing the Town included turning the space behind Victoria Hall into a multi-purpose space that would be a new town square. It would have a “Business Mode which accommodates parking and all modes of traffic, a Market Mode which is designed to create an attractive market space for the farmers’ market and an Event Mode where multiple events and performances can be held.”
Dubbed “Victoria Square” it had an estimated cost of $1.5M. (See Link below for more). Council decided that it would only be viable if at least $1M in funding could be raised from Provincial or Federal funding. Despite promoting the idea as a celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, so far that has not happened. This upgrade would no doubt have made the Condos facing the square more attractive.
When it was apparent that this project was not happening any time soon, the Farmer’s market obtained approval to move across the road to Rotary Park – except for the weekend of the Waterfront Festival. This happened in May 2018 – see link below. This removes the need for one of the Victoria Square modes so I’d guess the Victoria Square idea is dead – at least in its current form.
In September 2020, the owner of the land at 202 Second Street asked the Town for a longer term arrangement and Council authorised negotiations for a lease. At the next Committee of the Whole meeting on December 7, Council will be asked to approve a new 2 year lease at a rate of $3500 per month. There’s no mention of an option to renew. So there won’t be any building on that site for at least two years. Maybe in two years they will want to build and that would likely cause a Parking problem in downtown Cobourg.
- Video explaining Victoria Square
- Farmers Market in New Location – 5 May 2018
- Memo from Ian Davey about Agreement to Lease