HIP Developments officials are still on a high in the aftermath of their Day in the District event last month.
Not only did the festivities draw crowds to take in HIP's vision for the former Southworks Factory Outlet Mall as a place to live, work and play, it set a new sales record for Waterloo Region.
“It was really important to us to give Cambridge the opportunity to own a piece of the district first and that’s what we did,” said HIP president Scott Higgins of the Sept. 16 event. “This was risky, but it really paid off. People are just as passionate about this place as we are.”
As part of the Day in the District event, HIP Developments opened its sales office partnering with the Cliff Rego of Rego Realty Inc,. During a three-day period more than 90 per cent of the Gaslight District’s 20-storey condominium tower’s 197 units were pre-sold.
“What’s remarkable is we concentrated on Cambridge first and did very little advertising in Kitchener-Waterloo and none in Toronto.”
Rego told the Times his crew worked behind the scenes for three months prior to the launch to get ready for the Day in the District
In 12 hours spread over three days, Rego said his team sold an estimated $90 million worth of real estate and almost 90 per cent of the buyers were Cambridge residents.
Rego’s team had 2,000 people preregister for units in the new condo and they are still working through 200 people seeking units who are on a waiting list. There are still about a dozen units available.
Higgins believes the sales success is in part due to a pent-up demand for condos in west Galt, where empty-nesters are starting to look around for their next home.
As HIP Developments pushes forward with its plans, there is at least one more hurdle to overcome — a pending Ontario Municipal Board hearing launched by the Cambridge branch of Architectural Conservancy of Ontario regarding the height of the two apartment towers. A hearing date has not been set.
If the project survives appeal, Higgins said the entire Gaslight District plan would move ahead next year with completion sometime in 2020.
On the commercial side of the project, a number of major tenants are already in place including Energy+, the Gaslight District Market and The Event Firm.
“There is great interest in the commercial space as well with a rapidly growing list of prospects," said Joel Doherty, HIP’s development director.
Seven restaurants are also in the plans for the Gaslight District.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response from the bar, restaurant and café folks,” Higgins said. “It’s going to allow us to pick and choose who comes in. There won’t be any (restaurant) chains here. Each of them will be unique.”
Next door, work is also proceeding on Grand Innovations the new incubator hub for high-tech startup companies in the former Tiger Brand building, which will also house Conestoga College’s new cybersecurity programs.
Speaking to the potential of the Gaslight District, Higgins said, “This place was the engine of growth for downtown Galt. For a while it was a retail establishment, which was great, but we want to turn it back into that engine that fosters the next bit of prosperity for the City of Cambridge.”