He currently owns 10 apartment buildings at six sites.
Some of these are vintage buildings dating from early last century, the kind with character that have defined the central city and are key to keeping residents and good quality housing stock in the core.
These include The Maple on Ouellette Ave., Garden Court Apartments on Erie Street West, and the Royal Windsor Apartments (pictured above) on Park Street West.
Rho-Orion buys and renovates, in turn charging tenants reasonable rents for quality premises.
Why is White so big on Canada’s motor city?
Windsor as a population centre might be an average size city in Ontario but from someone in B.C. it’s significant.
“In western Canada it would be third or fourth largest in any of the western provinces,” he said.
When it comes to municipal services White is happy about recent administrations at city hall which have “righted the ship” for a city previously typified with higher debt, bigger union contracts, and mediocre fiscal management.
Windsorites might think we’re a one (auto) industry town but that’s not how White sees us.
The city, he says, has “good diversity” in primary manufacturing such as auto, secondary such as “intermodal” transportation and agriculture, and tertiary with education and alternate energy.
Being on the border is a big plus, White thinks, calling us the “primary portal” to the U.S.
“America will eventually regain its economic hegemony and Ontario will benefit generally.”
The investment by senior governments in the city’s infrastructure will put Windsor on a more solid foundation and open up economic horizons, he says.
These include the Parkway and new bridge, the airport expansion, and “freight forwarding” - all of which are “investment multipliers.”
Don’t downplay the importance of passenger airlines.
“WestJet, Air Canada and Porter Airlines all follow the business,” White said. “They know that there is an increase in business because they follow business – we follow them.”
Detroit is also a factor, as in Windsor having “all (its) benefits, none of the liabilities.”
These include professional sports teams, major universities, medical centres, big city arts, and major manufacturing.
“All the preceding elements were considered before we looked at the price of suites or specific projects,” he said.
Zeroing in on the property market itself, White found Windsor vastly overlooked - “or at least it was” - stagnant and with prices “lagging far behind re-build costs and similar market comparables.”
For an investor like him in rental properties there has also been “no significant condo market” with which to compete.
Meanwhile there were also numerous buildings for sale with high vacancy rates.
“If you need to repair a building you need vacant suites to work with,” he said.
Moreover high vacancies mean “better purchase prices and potential for a dramatic increase in value.”
And there was a large available unemployed skilled labour workforce to undertake the renovations on his newly-acquired buildings.
Rho-Orion now has 234 suites in 10 buildings at six locations for a total investment of $6.4 million.
“We have spent additionally $2.4 million in local labour, services and materials for renovations, repairs and aesthetic improvements over the last six years,” White said.
“We have hired dozens of local contractors and engaged many local businesses for parts and services – likely paying one-third of our budget on wages.”
All this and not to mention that he loves watching hockey at Joe Louis Arena, located closer than he is to Rogers Arena in Vancouver where his hometown Canucks play.