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Vintage Port Stanley, Ont. building to become lakeside attraction

A vintage building sitting on a prime location on Port Stanley’s harbour could soon house a new southwestern Ontario lakeside attraction.

Central Elgin Council is expected to approve a $1.4 million lease to own deal to create a new microbrewery and restaurant at the Dominion of Canada (DOC) building.

The structure is only a few metres south of Port Stanley’s downtown and historic lift bridge. It's also a short walk away from the main beach.

However, its current condition will mean substantial renovations are needed, including the interior, patios and a new boat dock.

The London-based developers behind the project are no strangers to Port Stanley. Domus & Wasko Developments are already residential builders in the area.The Dominion of Canada Building in Port Stanley Ont. as seen on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022. (Sean Irvine / CTV News) Michael Mescia of Domus acknowledges renovating a 92-year-old building is different than new construction, but he feels his firm is up to the challenge.

“The structure itself actually fits our use perfectly. It is a nice kind of rectangle. Ceilings are high and it has that industrial vibe to it, which kind of ties to the restaurant and brewery.”

To developers will lease DOC for five years before having an option to buy. The total estimated cost, including the renovations, is $3.5 million.

Renderings, provided to CTV London, show the regional appeal of the project.

Central Elgin Mayor Sally Martyn says that is the goal. “We’re hoping this will set the tone for the west side of the harbour.”

Martyn says other projects may include more restaurants, retail and cafes. A hotel and conference centre are also on the municipality's radar.

The goal is to create a boardwalk to the shoreline, starting with the DOC development.Central Elgin Mayor, Sally Martyn (Sean Irvine / CTV News)But Martyn is ruling out high-rises, which could block views and change the quaint appeal of the harbour.

“We’ve had a proposal before and earlier plans where they were just going to be apartment buildings all along. They’re no way we’re doing that. It has to be something creative and different.”

That means developers may have to look to more projects like the DOC to get approval.

Still, Mescia believes Port Stanley is just at the start of a resurgence.

“I think everybody is just starting to realize Port Stanley exists. Everybody was always Grand Bend Bluewater, going to the other lake, but Port Stanley sticks out once you go to Lake Erie.” Top Stories

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