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Hollingsworth Arena site development back in the spotlight

Developer Briarwood Development Group shared two concept designs with the community, one of which would involve a takeover of the Hollingsworth Arena land

Residents of a northeast Newmarket neighbourhood had the chance to see what may go up in their backyard on the Hollingsworth Arena site near Davis Drive and Patterson Street.

The Hollingsworth Arena — whose future has long been a subject of debate — sits on one parcel of Town-owned land, while developer Briarwood Development Group owns the remaining two properties that make up the site.   

Even though Briarwood has not yet made a formal application to the Town of Newmarket to build on its land, one of the two concept designs it shared with the community for feedback at an informal public information session Tuesday would involve a takeover of the arena land.

The Town of Newmarket has for at least the past three years considered selling the Hollingsworth Arena property at 35 Patterson St, the current home of the Newmarket Minor Hockey Association, because the single ice pad facility is nearing the end of its lifecycle. The Town has also explored public-private partnerships to keep the property for community use with little success.

Councillor Jane Twinney, in whose ward the land is located and who was on hand to answer questions during the drop-in, said she is “not keen” on selling the Hollingsworth Arena, but would like to see development there that’s good for the entire community.

“The developer is just testing the waters right now, to get a sense of what the community desires for the neighbourhood,” Twinney said. “The whole area is dated and old and it’s the entranceway into our community. I want something that will be nice for the community, and I think in the end, people will be happy.”

The developer has not made an offer to purchase the land and the arena isn't for sale.

Here are the two development ideas Briarwood shared with the community for its property at 693 and 713 Davis Dr.:

Scenario One

  • Two 15-storey towers with 289 suites
  • Urban courtyard park
  • Dramatic landmark water feature at the corner
  • Retail and commercial along Davis Drive
  • Sculpture in the urban park
  • This concept is in accordance with the Town's bylaws

Scenario Two

  • Six-storey seniors residence with 120 suites and community facility at ground level
  • Two 15-storey towers with 289 suites
  • Community park
  • Urban courtyard park
  • Dramatic landmark water feature at the corner
  • Retail and commercial along Davis Drive
  • Sculpture in the urban park
  • This concept would require the purchase of the Hollingsworth Arena at 35 Patterson St. from the Town

John Fennell, one of many residents who attended the drop-in at the Newmarket Community Centre and Lions Hall, said of the development ideas: "You lose in one way, but gain in another."

Other feedback gathered at the drop-in included traffic and congestion concerns, as well as the loss of the community arena. However, the potential loss of the Hollingsworth Arena would be mitigated by a new park with a splash pad and community facility, Twinney said.

In addition, it was noted that the two residential towers would add much needed accommodation for the community, which is seeing an increase in young families moving into the area and seniors interested in downsizing, Twinney said.

Representatives from the Town also attended the drop-in session, along with Mayor John Taylor and councillors Christina Bisanz, Bob Kwapis, Trevor Morrison, and Victor Woodhouse.

Check back here for more on this developing story.

~With files from Greg King

Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
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