Decision on closing or relocating in Bronte coming soon for Oakville businesses

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March 29, 2022 at 5:14 pm

Lisa Bogart admits right now she doesn’t want to think about the new six-storey development in Oakville that will serve as a gateway to Bronte.

While her Bogart Home & Decor Consignment retail store is one of about 18 businesses that will be displaced once construction begins on the new condo development at the southeast corner of Lakeshore W. and Bronte Rd., the store owner is pushing aside for now any decision whether she’ll close the business or open up elsewhere.

“I’ll be real honest, I have not made that decision,” Bogart said. “The way I’ve looked at this is, and I could be very foolish, but the current property manager has been just fantastic in terms of transparency with me and telling me how things are proceeding and helping me with a couple of issues I had with the store.

So I feel until I get notice, I just pushed it out of my head.”

Bogart said she has received a guarantee she will receive a six-month notice ahead of the development’s construction.

“If I start worrying about it now, I’m sort of taking my eye off the ball with what my current business is because I’m consignment and I work in a four-month rotation to accept things,” she said.

“I just decided to myself that with COVID and everything we’ve been through, that I’m just going to focus on the moment and when I have notice, I’ll make a final decision.”

Bogart is one of several business owners in the popular shopping area who will be forced to close or find a new location.

“I would say about 80 per cent would like to stay in Bronte if they could, but that’s the dilemma,” said Maureen Healey, executive director of the Bronte BIA. “We’re in the process now of trying to focus our efforts on economic development in the spirit of matchmaking.

“We can’t tell a tenant where to go, we don’t set any kind of lease rates, but where we can, we’ll matchmake where businesses want to stay. If it’s a criteria of an empty vacancy, we’re trying to connect them.”

One of four current redevelopments coming down the pike in Bronte, the proposed J.M. Lakeshore-Bronte Inc. six-storey mixed use building will include retail and amenity space below with residential units above.

The building will have some 188 residential units, with 283 parking spaces provided (38 at grade and 245 located within 2-levels of underground parking).

The current developments mark the beginning of change taking place, the inevitable gentrification that will happen in Bronte.

“As much as people don’t like change, they’re ready to embrace change because they know Bronte,” said Healey. “It’s ripe for change. People are looking forward to the end of that road when construction is finished and the good change it will bring.

“Some more housing, we need it. Additional parking, new buildings that have better, newer higher quality, more environmentally friendly retail space. All those good things that redevelopment gets you.”

Healey said there have already been four businesses on the Bronte block that have already closed because either their lease was up, health issues, the pandemic or they’ve gone on-line.

“Some people are starting to plan now, others are of the mind ‘I’ll wait until the shovel is in the ground,’ they don’t believe it’s actually going to happen,” said Healey.

Construction is slated to likely begin in the fall.

“I know that they’re going to build a condo, there is no question about that,” said Bogarts. “But I don’t know it’s going to happen as quickly as (they want).

“It’s difficult, there’s a lot of things that need to be done before a condo can be built, so that’s why I’m waiting for my notice and then go from there.”

As for whether she’ll seek to move back into one of the new retail spaces in the new development, Bogart says it’s all about the rent.

“I’m consignment, so I lose 60 per cent off the top,” she said. “So unless my rent is reasonable, it’s hard to make this a viable business.”

Whatever decision she does make, Bogart knows it won’t be an easy one. She loves Bronte and the support she has received from the community over the four years she has been in business

“I love this shop. It’s a beautiful, beautiful shop and I love the community, so it would be a big hole in my heart,” she said. “But I also have to be realistic about that this the right thing for me.

“Retail is changing so much, so I don’t know. As I say, I’m not forcing myself to make any tough decisions until I have to.”

Healey said with the location being where it is it serves as a gateway to Bronte and to the end she said the Bronte BIA will be working with the developer on that as well as the retail space.

“Making sure it’s a property people go, ‘ahh, it’s arrived,'” she said. “That it has some ambiance, some cachet to it.”

Healey says it’s disappointing that local businesses, that have been a vital part of Bronte, will have to close or relocate due to the development.

“But we hope it will change for the better.”

Bogart says she’s not upset in any way with the builder here.

“That’s just the way of the world,” she said. “They’ve been nothing but kind to me. I know they’ll give me the appropriate notice and I’ll go from there.”

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