The Town of Gravenhurst & Evanco, Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada.
In 1999 Talbot Consultants International Inc. was retained by The Town of Gravenhurst, Ontario & Evanco to conduct a preliminary feasibility study for a potential new lifestyle town centre development on approximately 30 acres of lakefront property in the prestigious Muskoka Lakes area north of Toronto on behalf of a public/private partnership. Our initial recommendations suggested that the "flavour" of the project should be "Old Muskoka" and be similar in "feel" to such heritage destination areas as St Michael's (Talbot County, Maryland), Granville Island (Vancouver, B.C.), Roche Harbour (San Juan, Washington), Mystic Seaport (New London, Connecticut) and The Royal Naval Dockyard (Somerset, Bermuda).
The tentative plans called for the project to be anchored by the piers for the historic steamship the R.M.S. Segwun, a possible new sister ship and Wanda III (a heritage steam yacht) as well as the R.M.S. Segwun Heritage Centre, a new "history of steam" interpretative centre, a crafts centre, a classic boat centre, a marina and a boat building school. A "boutique" resort hotel of approximately 100 rooms was also proposed for the site. Our key recommendation was that the “glue” to tie all these diverse components together should be a waterfront “street” of approximately 100,000 sq. ft. of unique retail boutiques and restaurants thus providing a “seamless” link between each of the cultural and hospitality components.
Our preliminary report was extremely encouraging and well received so, during 2000 & 2001, the developers proceeded with more detailed plans (through Forrec) and then approached the various levels of government and the potential cultural anchors. In 2002 the Federal & Provincial Governments confirmed their approval for funding.
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