Carthew BayA bike ride with his children changed the course of Senti Rasa’s life – and altered the destiny of the general store that is the heart of Carthew Bay.

“I have a cottage on Line 12 and me and the kids decided to bike to the Carthew Bay Store for ice cream,” recalled Rasa, who noticed a ‘For Sale’ sign on the dilapidated building at the corner of Line 14 South and Lakeshore Road.

With almost an acre of land a stone’s throw from glimmering Lake Simcoe, Rasa, a Toronto-based real estate investor, could see the property and store had promise.

So, he sat down with Al Bilous, who, with his wife and son, Doug, had operated the store for a quarter of a century. And, over many coffees and meetings, they struck a deal; Rasa would purchase the property and the Bilous family would continue to live in the home on the property and Doug would continue to work at the store.

Carthew BayRasa has completed a massive renovation of the store and gave the exterior a facelift that included new siding and new windows – all thanks to help from the Orillia Area Community Development Corporation (OACDC).

“They provided funding to help me with the renovation and I often go to them for advice,” said Rasa. “They’ve been a big help in this venture.”

Rasa recently purchased the 40 acres behind the store and is working with the township to develop a parking lot for the nearby boat launch and also plans to open a patio and ice-cream stand. Throughout the process, he has relied on the OACDC’s expert staff for counselling and advice.

“I have a vision for this property,” said Rasa. “I want to build an eight-plex. I can envision the store and other retail/commercial uses on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors, offering great views of the lake.”