For the first time in five years a major step has been taken towards developing the site of the former Beta Brand McCormick factory on Dundas Street in east London.

Neglect has turned the building into a neighbourhood blight since the former cookie factory closed in 2007.

Area resident Ken Hopf says “It’s attracting mice and vagrants and everything else, so it’s just not that pleasant.”

After the taxes went unpaid, the building ended up under municipal control, and now finally Councillor Stephen Orser says change is coming.

“Two years ago they said this couldn’t be done, and last night we did it.”

City council has order staff to seek out people interested in finding a new use for the old industrial site. In other words, a developer with money and a plan.

Orser would like to see a long-term care home, a new industrial building or residential housing, but ultimately council will have to choose the best option.

“We are over all the hurdles, now it’s action time and the action is going to be McCormick being sold shortly and hopefully developed into something positive for Ward 4.”

It is possible the city could develop the property itself, staff have also been directed to consider if there is a municipal use for the land or the building.

Environmental assessments have shown contamination at the site is less than originally believed, and remediation is expected to cost around $800,000.

But Orser says considering the value of the site, it may be a small price to pay, “It won’t affect people wanting to buy this, make a $50 million investment and bringing jobs and prosperity.

Neighbours like Hopf say “I just hope they get on it and someone develops it into something, anything.”