Published on: 5/15/2014 11:56:06 AM Print | Font Sizes:  Normal Text Large Text

Designers hired for Sault redevelopment project

By: Northern Ontario Business staff

Heritage buildings at the former St. Marys Paper site in Sault Ste. Marie are being repurposed into Destination North, a multi-faceted tourist attraction. (FILE PHOTO)
Heritage buildings at the former St. Marys Paper site in Sault Ste. Marie are being repurposed into Destination North, a multi-faceted tourist attraction. (FILE PHOTO)

Science North Enterprises and Yallowega Belanger architectural firm have been hired to plan the next phase of redesign at the former St. Marys Paper mill site in Sault Ste. Marie.

The firms have been tasked with figuring out how to repurpose the Pulp Tower building—a heritage sandstone building on the site—into a cultural, educational and recreational centre being dubbed Destination North. The Sudbury-based development specialists will work with local stakeholders to help plan the next steps.

“We’re in the business of advancing revitalization,” said Justus Veldman, CEO of site developer Riversedge Developments, in a news release. “We start with regional resources that can be leveraged to create new economic opportunities relevant to the communities we’re working with. Unexpectedly, at St. Marys Paper, we saw an opportunity to work with the incredible expertise in the natural sciences to develop the programming for Destination North.”

Destination North is being spearheaded by a steering committee consisting of representatives from Riversedge Developments, the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC), Tourism Sault Ste. Marie and the City of Sault Ste. Marie. By engaging Science North Enterprises and Yallowega Belanger, the committee intends to generate a solid plan for development, which will be used to drive the project forward.

“In order to access funding, investors first want to see a sound and current business plan,” said Ian McMillan, executive director of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie, a division of the SSMEDC. “That’s what we’re doing by working with Science North Enterprises and Yallowega Belanger. They have development expertise that’s a perfect fit for this project.”

In 2013, the idled St. Marys Paper site was purchased by Riversedge Developments. Since then, the company has been working to redevelop the land into a mixed-use property, which has been named Mill Square. The historical administration building, for instance, is being converted into the new home of the Algoma Conservatory of Music, while the old machine shop is being renovated into a performance and arts venue.

The Destination North component is the next step in the overall development of the waterfront property. The attraction would help draw visitors to the community while also acting as a gathering place for area residents. The hiring of Science North Enterprises and Yallowega Belanger was made possible thanks to an investment from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Meanwhile, Destination North will add to the municipality’s overall downtown and waterfront development strategy.

“Destination North is an important step in anchoring the westerly section of the community’s downtown redevelopment,” said Jerry Dolcetti, the city’s engineering and planning commissioner. “Sault Ste. Marie has come a long way from the early-1970s when oil tankers and scrapyards dominated our waterfront and downtown area. With the development projects that are now underway, the opportunities for the area are even brighter.”

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