A renovation of the 118-year-old, yellow brick Southampton Factory building – designed to accentuate its heritage value — is in the planning stage, proponent Dhruv Sheth said Tuesday.
He said he wants to transform the unused third floor of the three-storey building into high-end office space, with exposed brick and wooden beams. He’s aiming for occupancy in October. Existing zoning permits his plans for the building, he said.
An application will be made to the town in the next couple of weeks, said Sheth, vice-president of the numbered company which owns the building and operates as Southampton Factory.
His plan is not to turn the entire three floors of the building into office space, he said.
He said he hopes to work with the Southampton Market, tenants using the main and second floors of the old furniture factory since 1998.
“I hope we’re able to update the building together. My final goal is a mixed-use building where we have some commercial space, some office and then mainly retail on the bottom floor,” Sheth said.
“It’s a little bit early to say if that’s going to happen but that’s sort of the direction I plan to take,” he said. There’s 20,000 square-feet of leasable space on the third floor.
“My main thing is I don’t want to do anything that’s against what the community wishes . . . It really should be something that fits.”
Part of the plan calls for demolition of the white addition at the south end of the building. There are “a few” parts of the building to be demolished. Based on a preliminary engineer’s investigation “we don’t see any major issues” with the building, he said.
“I’m not going to destroy anything that’s in good shape. In fact, I want to preserve as much of it as I can and restore as much of it as I can. But also modernize the building, with a modern heating system, modern windows.
“And just make the space feasible for the years to come, so there is a second life for this building.”
Sheth said the building has no official heritage designation, an advantage when redeveloping it, he said. He suspects it’s not designated because the building has always been in use.
“But at the same time, I don’t want to destroy anything so I think maybe down the road it could be one (a designated heritage building).”
He said he hopes to highlight elements of the building’s history by displaying old photos, which as generations of people who worked there and of the train which actually entered the building.
According to his research, the building was built in 1901 by Solomon Knechtel, of Knechtel Brothers. In 1906 it was sold to Southampton Furniture Company and shortly after, to Bell Furniture Company.
The white building addition was added in 1911 and in 1937 Fitton-Parker Furniture took over and remained for 32 years. In 1969, Sklar-Peppler made furniture there.
In 1987, Sheth’s father, Jawahar Sheth, and business partner David Ziegler purchased the building and used it to mill specialty flower. The Southampton Market moved into the building in 1998.
Sheth was born in Mississauga and spent his first five years living in Southampton. After a family member was injured in a car collision, the family moved back to Mississauga, where he grew up. But loves the community and still comes back, he said.
The business partnership of his father and Ziegler dissolved concerning the Southampton Factory building last spring. Sheth no longer has an interest in Southampton Flour Milling either.
He described he and his father as “property investors” who own mainly residential properties in the Greater Toronto Area.
“But this was a property which had been in our family for years. And once we had full . . . control over what we’re going to be doing with that building, we decided, well what opportunities are there for that building?”
See https://www.southamptonfactory.com/ for more details.