No rebuilding at Campus Court a year after the fire
One year after a massive blaze levelled the popular Campus Court Plaza in Waterloo, rebuilding has not started for the devastated businesses.
The $3-million fire destroyed the business complex on April 22, 2010, leaving owners out in the cold and over 100 employees out of work.
Kevin Chung, owner of Mr. Sushi Sushi, says "After today, from tomorrow the insurance doesn't pay me at all, so I have to find my job as soon as possible."
The owner of Mel's Diner, Jerry Smith, says "Washed out, I have enough, I've had enough hurry up and wait for a lifetime."
The restaurants and shops had hoped to be back in business by now, but the investigation into the blaze and building code issues that have delayed city approvals have pushed back construction plans.
After a seven month investigation by the Ontario Fire Marshal's Office, the case was passed on to local police.
Waterloo Regional Police Staff Sgt. Ken Jessop says "They handed over the investigation after deeming that it was an arson. Since that time we have currently three investigators that are looking into the fire."
For business owners who have lost everything, the news that someone may have set the fire was troubling.
Benny Afrouzi is the owner of the University Vision Center. He says "We were shocked, of course, and angry, very angry. I still, I cannot believe that someone would do such a horrible thing."
The owners of the Campus Court property are now optimistic that work to rebuild could begin by early summer.
But Chung says the delays have been a challenge, "I don't understand the situation, nobody understands, it takes too long."
Four former tenants say they remain committed to returning to the site, but some say time could be running out.
"I'm trying to position myself so that I'm available to do this whenever it happens, but so that also I'm not sitting here in a crunch if it doesn't happen," Smith says.
Afrouzi adds "We have to see what we are going to do, we have to rethink every plan that we had. We had invested so much in this place."
While some of the business owners are still holding out hope of rebuilding their business in the Campus Court location, concerns remain that it could be another six to eight months before they would be able to reopen.