Store owners ‘shocked’ by Stouffville mayor’s proposal
March 12, 2015
By Sandra Bolan
At least one business owner, whose store would be flattened if Mayor Justin Altmann’s “vision” were to become a reality, won’t go without a fight or a lot of money.
“If I don’t get a decent price, I won’t sell to nobody,” said Ville Papas, owner of Stouffville Fine Furniture. “I have a viable store...I’m the biggest store here.”
Altmann made his vision public for the south side of Main Street during a meeting with downtown business owners last month.
Papas was invited, but she said, at the last minute, so she could not attend.
The mayor’s idea includes levelling everything on Main Street’s south side from the CIBC to Turack, Raguseo, Lesti and Gilliatt accountants to make way for a complex that would have retail on the main floor, professional services on the second floor and a couple of levels of residential units above that. There would also be underground parking.
“This is just a vision I had. Nothing is concrete. It’s just an idea,” Altmann re-iterated to The Sun-Tribune.
“If he was going to do such an agenda...don’t you think it would have been decent for him to walk in here and say I want to talk to you,” Papas said.
Stouffville Fine Furniture opened in the former IGA location 22 years ago.
The one-acre property is already zoned for second floor apartments, according to Papas, who added, they might construct them one day but not with the aid of a developer. They would do it on their own.
Another business that would be torn down, if the mayor’s vision becomes a reality, is Turack.
“It’s not a bad concept, but wow, really surprised, taken aback, “ Tony Raguseo, who owns the building and is a partner in the business, told The Sun-Tribune.
Raguseo only heard about the idea from The Sun-Tribune. As far as he knows, no one from his office was invited to the meeting.
“It was shocking that was brought out without any forewarning,” he said.
The accounting office moved onto Main Street in 1999 and from February to April, tax season, they bring about 1,000 people into the core, according to Raguseo.
A re-development concept, like what the mayor is thinking about, is not new to Papas.
Last year, three developers approached her with an idea to demolish part of Main Street to put something else up.
“I just listened to the B.S.,” she said, noting they did not offer her any money.
But six years ago, a developer offered her $4 million. She turned it down “because once I go, I go. I’m not going to open again.”
But like most people, she has a price.
“If he’s willing to give me $10 million, I’d go tomorrow...At 65, $10 million looks good.”