Aquaworld developer sets his sights on downtown Prescott

Prescott Mayor Brett Todd (right) and developer Stefano Ferrante. Van Dusen photo, Nation Valley News

Tom Van Dusen
Nation Valley News

PRESCOTT – Calling it the “biggest development to hit King Street in many decades”, Mayor Brett Todd officially broke ground Friday on a $4-million downtown apartment complex, an integral part of uplifting the business core which languished for years until recent spurts of renovation.

Developer Stefano Ferrante has already constructed a smaller apartment building in Prescott and is also behind the much-heralded — if controversial — Aquaworld Resort on 250 acres of former farmland in Augusta Township just west of here. The project would include a 140-room hotel, convention centre, bar and restaurants.

Residents of Merwin Lane where Aquaworld would be located have opposed it because of anticipated traffic density and possible well water issues. With COVID-19 putting the clamp on financing and other resources, Ferrante turned his attention back to the much smaller King Street project which was delayed for several months.

See the Aquaworld Resort promotional video, below, the “largest indoor waterpark” planned on the outskirts of Prescott in neighbouring Augusta Township.

It has been controversial as well. The three-storey building will contain 16 units on two upper floors and 19 parking spaces on the ground floor accessed from the rear off Water Street. Some residents didn’t like the parking setup and thought retail should be at ground level. But the downtown already has plenty of empty retail and council was more interested in the parking spots.

Filling a gap left 30 years ago when the Daniels Hotel burned, the front of the building will feature brick and stone veneer along with decorative cornices to blend with the historic storefronts around it. There were complaints that the Ferrante building as first conceived didn’t go far enough to fit in.

Since the hotel was destroyed, the back of the lot has been used for random parking while the front was dressed up with shrubs and St. Lawrence Seaway buoys loaned by the Canadian Coast Guard base further west on King. In fact, Todd said he couldn’t think of anything as significant to happen on the main street since the Coast Guard came to town in the mid-1980s.

“The new building will be right up there with Prescott Place in the 1970s and the Mariners Club in the 2000s when it comes to noteworthy residential additions to the downtown core.”

The mayor hopes that tenants moving into the Ferrante building will provide new customers for downtown businesses, serving as stimulus for continued rejuvenation work.

The new apartment building isn’t the only good news on the Prescott business front. After the ground breaking was done, Todd officiated at a ribbon cutting further along King at Katarina’s Café which has been acquired by the Hudson family which also operate the Verandah Restaurant at the Prescott Golf Club; and Saturday the mayor was scheduled to cut the ribbon at Watergirl Quilt Co., also on King.

Earlier this month, he did the honours along with other council members across King at Glitz, a repurposing of two traditional shops into six retail spaces, a mini-mall featuring everything from hair stylists to a registered nurse. Developers of that project, Ashley and Josee Davies last year opened Zenn’s Inn, overnight accommodation in repurposed brick buildings on King.

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