Three years ago, Coun. Mike Columbus said the re-development of the Delhi Foundry property “has been a long time coming.”
He wasn’t kidding.
Columbus made that remark in April 2018 after Norfolk council approved plans for a three-storey, 14-unit apartment complex on the one-acre parcel in the gore of King Street and Talbot Road.
Fast-forward to 2021 and the property remains vacant.
In December, the same developer who received approval three years ago filed a new development application, one calling for construction of 11 townhouse apartment units on one floor along with a laundromat.
Robert Malinowski of Breslau explained that after he received that approval three years ago demands from Norfolk’s planning department mounted to the point where the project was no longer financial viable.
What was difficult, he said, was a request to encircle the property with a retaining wall. The King Street reconstruction project, which lasted nearly two years and was completed last fall, caused further delays.
While this was happening, Malinowski decided to simplify the project as a cost-reduction measure. He needs a zoning change and an official plan amendment from Norfolk council to proceed.
“It sounds now like we’ll have approval in the spring,” Malinowski said. “If everything goes well, I’d like to do the groundwork and foundations in 2021 and finish in 2022.”
The plan is to build two rowhouse blocks, all on one floor. One will have six units while the other will have five. Each unit will have 900-square-feet of living space. The computerized, state-of-the-art laundromat Malinowski has in mind will be open to the public.
When Malinowski concluded that site-plan requirements had become cost-prohibitive, he reluctantly put the one-acre parcel up for sale. His asking price was $390,000. He says he accepted $500,000 from investors in London and “immediately regretted it.”
Malinowski said he couldn’t think of anything to do with the money other than to invest in another development opportunity.
Fortunately for himself, the $500,000 offer was conditional on the purchasers having two months to research their options. When they asked for an extension, Malinowski seized the opportunity to re-think the foundry’s potential.
Malinowski is bullish on Delhi because he’s had a positive experience re-developing a run-down apartment complex on James Street. He has long thought replicating that experience on the foundry land would be a worth-while endeavour.
The re-development has been a long time coming but Malinowski is convinced the wait will be worth it. He’s looking forward to connecting brand-new residential construction to brand-new in-ground services that came with the King Street rebuild.
“They re-did everything and did a beautiful job,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to getting the shovel in the ground.”