A Vision of Commerce & Exciting Times in Lindsay

The Downtown Lindsay Annual Christmas Market and Festival - December 
The Downtown Lindsay Annual Robbie Burns Day & Scottish Festival - January
The Downtown Lindsay Valentines Day Weekend & Festival  - February
The Downtown Lindsay St Patrick's Day & Irish Festival - March
The Downtown Lindsay Spring Fling Festival - April
The Downtown Lindsay Multicultural Days & Festival - May
The Downtown Lindsay Comedy Festival - June
The Downtown Lindsay Blues & Folk Festival - July
The Downtown Lindsay Celebration of the Arts - August

Have you ever attended any of these events?

No,I made them up but I would love to see them happen. Borrowed from events in other areas such as the Distillery District in Toronto, Ottawa's Byward Market, Downtown Perth, Collingwood, or Stratford Ontario and some I just think, why not? They sound like fun though, don't they? We do have wonderful downtown events like, Classics on Kent, the weekly Lindsay Farmer's Market, and shopping events like The Shop and Hop put on semi-annually by participating downtown merchants, the Santa Claus Parade. We also have Rib Fest, and Canada Day celebrations and of course, the Lindsay Agricultural Fair. What am I driving at here? Let me share my thoughts on how I believe Lindsay just may be on the cusp of, and certainly has the potential to become a hotbed of culture, fun, and activity which will benefit the residents, the community, business and commercial development.

I believe it is possible to bring or borrow elements of a Distillery District, Byward Market or downtown Perth, and Elora, to bring visitors and commerce to Lindsay. Skeptical? Read on, friend, read on.

I thought of all this after I visited the Gooderham & Worts Distillery District's Christmas Festival in December. This event runs from late November til December 20th every year. It is free of charge from Tuesday to Friday and on weekends a $5 per person charge is in place. This is just one of the many events happening with great regularity in the district.

Dilapidated Distillery buildings pre-renaissance.          

The same buildings today. Remarkable!

However, the reason for my visit wasn't Christmas shopping, I was there as a spy... it was as a reconnaissance mission and I was right for the challenge.

You see, I am representing clients selling the beautiful 148 year old CL Baker building at 8 Cambridge Street North in Lindsay right in the middle of downtown, across from the Fire Hall and Town Hall. What's more, I am in LOVE with this building. It has approximately 9,000 square feet of space with loads of amazing original architectural features of the period. This gorgeous building is zoned Central Commercial so the uses are incredibly vast and exciting. From retail, to residential, to loft apartments, to restaurant, tavern, tv or radio broadcasting studio, place of assembly or worship, seniors home, there are over 35 uses for this amazing building. Click here: http://www.century21.ca/dee.girdler/Property/ON/K9V_4L3/Lindsay/8_Cambridge_St_N

8 Cambridge Street, Lindsay - The CL Baker Building - built in 1868,

Same Victorian period as the buildings of the Distilleries, similar construction. Who's ready? 

Back to my recon mission... I saw the commercials on TV advertising the Distillery's Christmas Market and the buildings are of a very similar style and period to 8 Cambridge St, Lindsay and for that matter, many of the buildings in our beautiful downtown Lindsay. Then I saw the throngs of people visiting. THEN, I spoke to many of my friends here in Lindsay who had left Lindsay to drive to downtown Toronto, 90 minutes, to visit the Distillery Christmas Market! With me here? Not yet? Stay with me.


Where is Lindsay? In the Heart of the Kawartha Lakes, known as The Gateway to Kawartha Lakes. 30 minutes from Peterborough, Port Perry, 40 minutes from Durham region, 60 minutes from York Region, 90 minutes from Toronto. 

How is Lindsay viewed by people from these places? Pretty, small town, lots of great shops and services. Cottage country town. Retirement town. Tourist town. Strangely, if you ask fellow residents what their perception of Lindsay is, you will get a similar response. I have visited Lindsay my whole life. My parents moved here 29 years ago. I moved here 4 years ago. This town is changing and fast but it also manages to maintain what is wonderful about it, that won't change for it is inherent in the hardworking and kind people of the community. There are more choices in fashion, activities, restaurants. It is also becoming more multicultural. These are all reasons to celebrate and embrace the fact that we have great opportunities here and ready to be embraced. 

How SHOULD Lindsay be seen by potential visitors? As the friendly, and ready for business town it is. Wonderful to new residents (as it certainly was to me), and by embracing new business opportunities ready to invest in the future and celebrate the past. As a town where an excellent family home can be bought for a FRACTION of the cost a fairly good home Durham or GTA. Not just residential properties, but commercial buildings are a pittance to what they would be in the GTA. As a town where not just homeownership is a reality for most hardworking folk but as a town where owning your own business is not just a dream, but quite possible if you have a good business plan. Anyway... I digress.

8 Cambridge Street, Lindsay's wonderful architectural features.                                                  The Distillery's. I like Lindsay's better!

Back to my recon mission at the Distillery Christmas Market... It was a cold Wednesday, I parked in the underground parking as I couldn't get a spot on Mill Street. $6 for 1 hour. Actually, knowing full well how much downtown Toronto parking can cost, I thought that was a deal. The market was strung with white lights, there were outdoor kiosks selling everything and anything Beavertails, Christmas trees, clothes, Maple products, decorations, poutine, and of course, all the shops and restaurants were open and PACKED. At 1pm. On a cold Wednesday. There was a central stage with ongoing Christmas performances, a huge Christmas trees, and probably a few thousand extremely happy shoppers... at 1pm... on a Wednesday... shopping, eating, drinking, smiling, and laughing. 

I think we have an opportunity here in our downtown to make similar opportunities for Lindsay, as they did in Toronto. I have shown the building to a few developers and investors with a similar vision, but there is a hesitation. Almost as if perhaps it is dreaming too great to undertake a similar idea on a smaller scale. Buy why not. Below is a synopsis of the vision embraced by the team who brought  the Distilleries back to life:

13 years a group of developers with a vision had a similar dream for Toronto. The Victorian era buildings in the distillery were in a dilapidated state, but had been pronounced a national historic site and part of their vision was transforming the district, but into a destination, something new and exciting. A development of commerce unique to Toronto. To quote the district's webpage "to create a place that would excite and inspire the senses. Where people could experience new ideas, new foods, new designs and new ways of living and working". 

“Our vision was to combine the romance and relaxing atmosphere of European walking and patio districts with the hip, cool dynamic of an area like New York City’s SoHo or Chelsea, where creative minds get together and you feel as if anything could happen.”

8 Cambridge Street's wonderful architectural features.       

Similar features embraced in one of the Distillery buildings.

To my way of thinking, could something quite similar be done here in Lindsay. I believe it can! Our buildings are of a similar vintage. Look at the comparison pictures I provided. 8 Cambridge Street has a great many of the same qualities and I know that other buildings in our downtown core have many similar and in some cases, more exceptional features. 

The CL Baker building on the corner of Cambridge and Kent Street built in 1874. Today this building houses Frozen Over, and Boiling Over. It seems that the CL Baker building built at  8 Cambridge Street in 1868 must have been a successful enterprise indeed and gave way to the larger structure being built in 1874. 8 Cambridge can be seen at the far left of the picture is the Lindsay Packing House. What vision Mr. Baker had!

Today, the CL Baker building on Kent houses two popular restaurant destinations, Frozen Over and Boiling Over, in addition to shops and apartments. To the left of the photo is the CL Baker building at 8 Cambridge St. $575,000 for Central Commercial zoning, 9,000 square feet and a piece of Lindsay's commercial history! What a deal!

Now, I might know what you're thinking. "Yes, Dee. That's Toronto. There are a few million people to draw into that market." You are absolutely right. I drove there from Lindsay. So did many of my friends. So did many people I don't know. Is there any reason we can't, on a slightly smaller scale, keep these shoppers spending money, supporting local business, and bringing commerce HERE to Lindsay? None whatsoever. Faint heart never won fair lady, or as the Great One, Wayne Gretzky said; "You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take." What' is the shot worth taking here? Build it, bring it, dream it, do it. Other municipalities have taken the charm of their older commercial buildings in the downtown core and built commerce and opportunity around it by drawing in crowds, shoppers, trade, and commerce with regular events & festivals. Instead of saying "Why?" when such proposals are made, we need to say "Why not? Let's try it!" I'm sure the first Collingwood Elvis Festival had very few attendees in its 1995 beginnings compared to the 30,000 + visitors it enjoys today. 

Here we are in the Heart of the Kawarthas, and just a short drive for 608,000 Durham residents, 1,000,000 York Region residents, almost 3 million Toronto residents. Not to mention 75,000 Kawartha Lakes residents and about 125,000 from Peterborough and surrounding areas. Lindsay's population you ask? About 21,000. Collingwood's population? About 20,000. Apples to Apples in case you thought Collingwood wasn't a viable comparison. 

Where am I going with all this? We have a fantastic town, and an amazing downtown core and amazing residents, hardworking and kind. It is arguably one of the best main streets in Canada for shopping, great dining and pubs, and services. Our old buildings have been or are being beautifully restored. At the foot of Kent Street, we have great entertainment at the Academy. Kent Street itself is steps from the Scugog River a part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, and incredible source of seasonal boating which we I don't feel w are fully capitalizing on to bring foot traffic to our town. We are not a cookie cutter box store town and we love that about us! We have tons of FREE municipal parking. We have space! We have a wonderful building for sale at the center of it all which, if the right buyer with the right vision buys it, could help make the Lindsay downtown core the Distillery District of Central Ontario? 

Could we bring something like this?    

Somewhere like this? 

I love Lindsay. I love the people, but I love the potential here and I think we are on the cusp of very of some really neat things happening. We need some vision, and some visionaries to take the leap.  As a resident of this wonderful community, I would love to see history repeat itself and watch a renaissance of Lindsay's gorgeous buildings to realize their highest potential uses. Are you the CL Baker of today? 

What if:
We did a Downtown Lindsay Christmas Market. Maybe just over 4 or 5 days, with outdoor vendor kiosks, hourly entertainment, activities. A smaller scale version of the Distilleries event? To begin with, of course. 

We did a Downtown Lindsay Blues and Folk Festival. A summertime draw, outdoor vendor kiosks, main stage in Victoria Park, and a few smaller stages? Think, oh, I don't know, Mariposa Folk Festival... 

Who knows? We're only limited by our dreams, we just might become the home of an Abba Impersonators Festival... 

 After all, if you build it, they will come. 

If you have a vision for 8 Cambridge Street, are interested in buying this amazing property, please call Dee Girdler or John Beukeboom, Sales Representatives, Century 21 Pinnacle, 705-324-2552. We'd love to show help you realize YOUR Real Estate vision, big or small. 

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