Skip to content

'It’s not just plans anymore': Downtown residential development becoming reality (5 photos)

'After decades of Barrie trying to attract large-scale investment to our downtown, we are now seeing it,' says Barrie mayor

Barrie’s urban growth centre (UGC), which includes the downtown, is on the very brink of unprecedented development.

The city’s 2021 fourth-quarter update on residential development applications shows 16 projects in the works.

“You just need to walk around to see it happening – it’s not just plans anymore,” Mayor Jeff Lehman told BarrieToday. “After decades of Barrie trying to attract large-scale investment to our downtown, we are now seeing it.

“Needless to say, this is what builds a strong, vibrant downtown. People living in and around the downtown are customers for the shops and services that make up the daytime economy in the core,” he added. “Streets with lots of pedestrians and thriving businesses are safer streets, and coupled with the city’s investment in a downtown market and new performing arts centre, the west end of downtown is now rapidly transforming. The additional projects in the years to come will only further benefit the downtown.” 

SEE RELATED: Business owners eager to 'walk the walk' in downtown Barrie 

The UGC stretches from St. Vincent Street in the east end around Kempenfelt Bay to Burton Avenue in Allandale.

Two of the larger projects are SmartCentres’ 1,900 units between Lakeshore Drive and Bradford Street and HIP Developments’ 623 residential units planned at the former Barrie Central Collegiate site.

HIP is planning a 29-storey tower with 276 units, a 25-storey tower with 228 units and a shared six-storey podium with 119 units at 34-50 Bradford St. and a portion of 125 Dunlop St. W. An application for site-plan control is pending.

Just more than a year ago, council rezoned and redesignated property between Lakeshore Drive and Bradford Street, so towers of 41, 38, 35 and 25 storeys high could be built by SmartCentres with a total of about 1,900 residential units, hotel rooms and commercial space at 51-75 Bradford St., and 20 Checkley St.

The site plan for its first phase, which includes the proposed 25-storey building fronting Lakeshore Drive, for 145 hotel units and 230 residential units, is under review by city planning staff.

“The SmartCentres project, of course, includes a hotel on the waterfront, which will be a huge boost to the downtown,” Lehman said.

Speaking of height, Debut Condos is proposing two 32 storey residential towers at 39-67 Dunlop St. W. and 35-37 Mary St., the so-called theatre block, for 495 units in two phases, plus a six storey podium, with ground-floor retail and commercial uses, along with parking on Levels 2 to 6.

And at 233 Dunlop St. W., an eight-storey, mixed-use building with 93 residential units and ground-floor commercial space is being built by MDM Developments.

At the northwest corner of Bayfield and Sophia streets, a 34-storey, mixed-use condominium building with ground-floor commercial uses and eight townhouse units, for a total of 480 units, is proposed. This property awaits a rezoning.

Right across the street, at the northeast corner of Bayfield and Sophia, eight storeys and 108 rental residential units are proposed by Coral Housing. Seventy of these units are deemed affordable. This projects awaits a site-plan submission.

Lakhouse Lakeside Residence is under construction at 185-265 Dunlop St. E., the former Lakeview Dairy site. The residential condo project by Aalto Developments is 10 storeys of 178 units and more than 1,700 square metres of ground-floor commercial use.

Just east of Lakhouse, at 217 Dunlop St. E., 12 storeys of 22 to 41 residential condos will be built between Sampson and Berczy streets by developer PBM Realty Holdings.

“One concern is that because of the strength of the Barrie real estate market, and the desirability of the water views from many of these buildings, many will not be affordable for those on modest incomes,” Lehman said. “However, some will – such as some of the purpose-built rental buildings proposed by HIP developments, and the apartment building that’s being built now at 233 Dunlop West, which is all affordable rentals.”

At 79 Collier St., 17 storeys and 136 units are proposed by a site plan that’s under review, while at Owen and Collier streets a 16-storey retirement residence is proposed, with 314 units and ground-floor commercial, by developer Revera.

A 20-storey tower is to be built at Owen and Worsley streets, along with an eight-storey tower at the corner of Owen and McDonald streets, and a six-storey, mixed-use podium and amenity building connecting them, for a total of 307 units. There will also be ground-floor commercial space, along with underground and structured parking.

The land has been rezoned, to allow the development to move forward, and site-plan control of the property, received by the city in July 2021, is under review by city planning staff for 55-57 McDonald St., 61-67 Owen St., and 70-78 Worsley St., right across from Barrie Public Library’s downtown branch.

At 220 Bradford St., a 14-storey apartment is proposed with ground-floor commercial and 121 units. Its site plan is under review by city planning staff.

And at 79 Gowan St., a four-storey, seven-unit residential apartment building is proposed. Its rezoning was granted by council in September 2020.

But the big plans for this part of the UGC are just down the street.

At 41 and 43 Essa Rd., and 259 and 273 Innisfil St., Tonlu Properties wants to develop four buildings of 20, 29, 35 and 37 storeys for 1,267 residential apartments with ground-floor commercial fronting onto Essa Road and Innisfil Street.

Tonlu also wants to develop two residential towers of 24 and 26 storeys with a total of 565 residential units, along with a four-storey garage podium, at nearby 17 and 27 Jacob’s Terrace. 

Rezoning applications are under review by city staff for both Tonlu projects, which must precede site-plan control for them.

And at 272 Innisfil St., a 17-storey apartment building with a townhouse podium and 164 units will be built. Site-plan control is pending.

“This (update) provides the status of existing applications as they move through the development approvals process, as well as providing updates to (city) council when new development applications are received,” Michelle Banfield, Barrie’s director of development services, said in a memo to councillors.

“There has been some progress, such as zoning approvals for the site on the northwest corner of Bayfield and Sophia (streets), as well as for 217 Dunlop St. E., and a shoring building permit issued for the theatre block.”

Also included in the city’s 2021 fourth-quarter update of development applications is the Residences at Five Points, 20 storeys of 208 residential condos proposed at the corner of Bayfield and Dunlop streets.

Buyers were told almost a year ago the development would not go ahead after residential condominium sales failed to reach 85 per cent and construction financing could not be arranged.

Yet, some of the signs there remain in place and the project is still on the city’s books.