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Developer pulls out of plan to buy landmark building (con't)

The building has to be vacated more than a decade ago because the city deemed it unsafe.

Valente, with a long track record of landmark local development, said the final straw was lack of parking.

“I dropped it because the property I was buying has no room for parking,” Valente said.

“I was told that there would be a lease available on abutting lands owned by the city to build a parking lot.

“However, due to environmental issues with these lands, the city was reluctant to lease the property until they could determine the extent and cost with dealing with the environmental concerns.

“This will likely take over 12 months.”

But realtor Barbara Oczachowski of Remax Preferred said there are other people waiting in the wings to put an offer on the four storey 63,000 sq. ft. former industrial building, priced at $895,000.

In all cases would-be purchasers are looking to convert the heritage building, constructed in 1911, to a combination of retail and residential units.

In a report, city hall staff say the building has “several challenges.”

These include the “environmental condition” and “unknown cost of remediation.”

Valente had made an offer subject to conditions including “verifying the environmental condition and estimated clean-up cost to redevelop the property.”

The matter was to have gone to the city’s Planning, Heritage & Economic Development committee July 11.

Valente had requested a grant under the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Community Improvement Plan (CIP).

Brownfield sites are properties that may be contaminated due to previous industrial or commercial uses.

The city announced the CIP in 2010 to aid in redeveloping Windsor’s many vacant brownfield sites – in 2009 there were some 137 locations totaling 559 acres.

The grants assist in the study, clean-up and redevelopment of the sites.

The prominent Hiram Walker Power property, long eyed as an almost perfect heritage building that could meld well into the Olde Walkerville business district of chic restaurants and galleries, had been identified “as a priority.”

Otherwise it remains an eyesore for motorists passing on Riverside Drive.

Valente was asking for $32,000 towards three studies valued at $230,000.

Realtor Oczachowski said she has a second potential buyer – “it’s conditional as well” – with conditions ending mid-August.

If that party doesn’t go ahead she has a third potential buyer.

And, “I have another fourth party in case (that deal) doesn’t close -  they are very interested.”

The property was put on the market in late April, the former owner being Phil Howe.

The property is also sometimes known as the Peabody Building.

The realtor said there is much interest in the building, and any future owner also likely would take advantage of CIP funding.

“Because if (funding is) available why not take advantage of it, the renovations are going to cost a lot of money so I’m sure anything will help,” she said.

Oczachowski said the listing price is a “bargain” despite the studies and extensive renovations needed.

“It’s a very study frame” with concrete floors.

“The price is extremely good” when compared to existing market two bedroom condos in Walkerville or on Riverside Dr. priced at more than $400,000 for, say, 2000 sq. ft., she said.

“This is going to be a very profitable project,” for whoever buys it, said Oczachowski.

“It just needs money and needs time but at the end it will be very profitable.”

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