Christian Fortin is hoping that his newly renovated property will become a boost for the business presence in the West Ferris area.
Fortin, owner of ProNor Development is in the process of transforming the former Tweedsmuir Elementary School, on the corner of Lakeshore and Gertrude, into a unique business centre.
“Now we are trying to create something interesting in the West Ferris area,” stated Fortin.
“I think it needs it. It’s taking a little bit of time to get a good sense of the needs for that area. We know the needs but we need to bring them in and make sure it fits in that area.”
The old school has already seen some renovations as a handful of tenants have already moved in including HeartZap and a Yoga Studio.
Fortin is hopeful to have a few more businesses on board in the next few weeks.
He hopes the fact that businesses will be able to share resources all under one roof will make it viable for local businesses.
“Right now we are creating a board room that can be shared by tenants so a tenant doesn’t have to pay rent on a board room on a full-time basis when they use it twice a month,” said Fortin.
“So we are hoping to share board rooms, offer that service, offer a central washroom area, and even a change area.”
Deputy Mayor Sheldon Forgette took a tour of the hallways of the facility on Tuesday.
“It’s almost like a mini-mall, like the hallway, it’s pretty cool,” said Forgette.
“If they can make that into a business centre and they can have other businesses located in it where you can share different spaces like washrooms, a board room, that’s great.”
Both Fortin and Forgette agree the model is similar to the Hive concept that was suggested to the city in the Baylor Study last spring.
Fortin says the old school does have its challenges as the wide hallways create a lot of wasted space. He says they will re-model to go along with the needs of new tenants.
“How do we change the wasted space to usable space, that’s the challenge,” stated Fortin.
He says more renovations will be done to the exterior of the building as they continue to find more tenants and try to bring more business back to West Ferris.