Development finally arriving at downtown Oshawa site vacant for 37 years


Published May 22, 2024 at 9:32 am

Dormant for 37 years, ravaged, first by fire and then by neglect, a property on the southern edge of Oshawa’s downtown with a colourful history may be finally getting a residential future.

After numerous starts and stops over the years, the Medallion project, a multi-phase rental community that will eventually bring more than 500 units in two high-rise buildings to the south side of Bruce Street in what is considered downtown’s south-east corner, is finally on its way.

Phase 1 of the project, with plans to build 22- and 10-storey buildings on what has been a vacant lot on the back side of the Tribute Centre for generations, is set for construction by the end of the year.

Tito-Dante Marimpietri, who chairs Oshawa’s Economic & Development Services Committee, said the project is “quite advanced” through the planning process.

“The Medallion project is yet another multi million-dollar injection into our local economy and tangibly signals one of many transformative new residential communities you will see rising up into the city’s downtown skyline,” he said. “After many decades, and countless attempts by previous administrations … the strategic work we’ve undertaken to bring a new and effective focus toward activating downtown redevelopment has finally resolved to ignite this particular site.”

Once one of Oshawa’s largest employers, the former Fittings Factory was a key reason Oshawa was known as the ‘Manchester of Canada’ in the early years of the 20th century.

Originally the Oshawa Stove Works (1873-1894), the Fittings Factory opened in 1902 and there were as many as 800 workers making pipe fittings in its heyday. The factory hung on until its closure in 1987 and after fires in 1989 and 1990 the site was razed and the land has been empty ever since.

The factory was also a key part of Oshawa’s labour history, with labour disputes before and after unionization, with the workers joining General Motors employees at the United Auto Workers in 1937. There were walkouts in 1935 and 1944 and a strike in 1940 and more labour unrest in the 1970s, eventually leading to the company going into receivership in 1987.

There was an attempt by a western Canadian developer in the 90s to bring new life to the property but those plans fell through and the land was bought by residential apartment developer Medallion Corporation in 2011.

Medallion has plenty of experience in rental properties, from a couple of affordable housing buildings on Wentworth Street in Oshawa’s south end to the Pat Bayly Square project that is the centrepiece of Ajax’s new downtown.

The company tried to develop the Bruce Street property in 2016, with plans for 2,200 apartment and townhouse units (and 4,500 residents) but the economics didn’t align to move the project forward until this year.

Marimpietri has been busy focusing on bringing in blue chip business to the Northwoods Business Park – which is in his ward – in recent years but has now turned his attention to activating “dynamic redevelopment” in the city’s downtown, noting that the historic Fittings Factory is “finally well on it’s way to being redeveloped as the vibrant residential community we envision to help to revitalize our downtown core.”

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