The future of the 133-year-old historic Royal Oak Schoolhouse is up in the air after the Crumsby’s Cafe closed its doors on Dec. 28.
While it was a surprise to some – including the building owner, Mike Geric Construction – that Crumsby’s closed, it’s merely the latest chapter for the iconic building. The Crumsby franchisee is cited as a foreign owner who shut the business, with three years left on the lease, due to health troubles keeping them from immigrating.
That the old schoolhouse is available to lease has piqued local interest.
As longtime Royal Oak builders, Geric Construction updated and moved the schoolhouse from its physical location at the back of the lot to its current location about five years ago. It was part of the company’s amenity package when it built the condo unit on the property.
When Geric Construction then leased the schoolhouse to Crumsby’s, it included a caveat the schoolhouse be made available to the community, free of charge, from 7 to 9 p.m., Monday to Thursday.
“That was part of our commitment to the community, and not about the amenity package,” said Ed Geric, primary with Geric Construction.
There are multiple benefits of the community caveat as it offers a place for the community to gather and, from the point of the business owner, the rent, or lease rate, is lessened in lieu of it, Geric said.
However, now that he’s seeking a new tenant, Geric said the future of the community caveat is in question, as a variety of businesses could prosper at the schoolhouse, from legal offices to a daycare centre.
“Maybe it’s not an ideal coffee shop, maybe it’s better suited to something else, I don’t know,” Geric said.
Aside from strata meetings by the neighbouring condos and the now-defunct monthly RON Talks, few community groups took up the offer to use the schoolhouse, Geric said.
“Perhaps word didn’t get out well enough” Geric said.
It’s not the first time the schoolhouse has been between tenants. It’s a replacement to the first schoolhouse that burned down in 1883, the current building ran from 1885 to 1950 as a school.
Geric has consulted with the Royal Oak Community Association regarding the future of the building.