Basketball team status justifies more than $2400 loss per game, city says Nov. 21 2022

The Windsor Express basketball club is renewing its lease with the city from 2023-2025 at the WFCU Centre. The team has been playing there since the 2012-13 season. Average attendance has continued to increase despite two seasons when play was interrupted by the Covid pandemic. In 2012-13 attendance averaged just 644 but last year, in an abridged season, it was 1224. However, only 43 per cent of attendance paid, the rest had complimentary tickets – 9062 of 15,915. During the first season 77 per cent of tickets were paid. Paid tickets have decreased yearly, with the least number in 2018-19 at 31 per cent. The new three-year term will provide an option of another three years, should city council approve. The city charges $3500 to the Express per game which includes floor conversion, event staff and game day box office. The city derives a $1.05 ticket surcharge. The City has the right to request a change of up to two games per season for major events. The team has priority for scheduling playoff games subject to already scheduled events and Windsor Spitfires playoff hockey games. The city splits concession revenue 50 per cent with the team. In the 2021-2022 season the city lost a net $31,683.34 or $2,437.18 per game. Similar losses are projected over the next three years. The city would need to charge $7200 to recover all direct costs. While the city loses money it justifies the cost by the “benefits related to employment and recreational opportunities for the community that are associated with the team’s operations.” As well, “a professional level sports team enhances the sense of community experienced by the residents of Windsor, provides family-friendly opportunities and helps to attract people from Essex County and beyond to attend events at the WFCU Centre.”

Farhi tower would be a blockbuster signature building for downtown October 6 2022

A long vacant site in the heart of downtown would undergo a massive change that will add a signature tower to the Windsor waterfront. It's the latest plan by London-based Farhi Holdings for Windsor, among land investments met with some skepticism, including the media, when the developer sought to invest in the city over the past decade. The lot is at the southwest corner of Riverside Dr. W and Janette Ave. The 28-storey building would contain 166 residential units and 187 parking spaces in an underground garage. "The proposed height of 85.5 metres (280 ft.) for the residential development offers a higher density built form to accommodate growth in a strategic and desirable area of the City of Windsor," says a planning report. Artist renderings show a red coloured five-storey base topped by a glass tower. It would be one of two towers located on either side of Janette, where there currently are vacant lots. Immediately across the street is the Caron Ave. Pumping Station, to the west Dieppe Tower and the CBC building. To the east Waterpark Place Condominiums and then city properties like the Art Gallery of Windsor and Adventure Bay Family Water Park. "The requested Multiple Dwelling development promotes cost-effective development by redeveloping an under-utilized vacant site," a city report says. The tower is virtually within the city core, providing much needed residential space and adding to a downtown population that could easily walk to the downtown retail and entertaiment district. Says the city, "The proposed development will help to encourage a pedestrian orientated cluster of residential, commercial and employment uses." The zoning change, passed by the city's development committee, must now go before city council. Other Farhi Holdings include the massive redevelopement of former GM Trim Plant lands on Lauzon Rd. with 101-unit single family upscale homes, seven six-storey condo-style rental buildings and two commercial parcels of almost three acres available next to the WFCU Centre. Farhi also owns the 333 Riverside DR. W. - the Double Tree by Hilton tower - and 369 Riverside Dr. W, a remaining riverfront undeveloped 31,000 sq. ft. lot across Church St. from the Art Gallery of Windsor.

Image: City of Windsor

City gives more than $300K for former problem-plagued near eastside site Sept. 23 2022

A residential complex is being planned for Windsor’s underdeveloped near east side on what had been the home of a major “eyesore.” But first the developer of the vacant lot at 669 Tuscarora St. has been notified he will be receiving public funding to carry out an environmental review and remediation, along with a tax break for several years on additional city taxes from the building’s increased assessment. The almost one-acre site used to hold the City of Windsor’s Social Services building, finally demolished in 2020. It’s on the corner of Louis Ave. about one block south of Wyandotte St. “on the periphery” of downtown, says a city report. At one time the land contained a school and over a century ago residential homes. The developer, a numbered company, is owned by Rio Aiello of Dior Homes. He wants to construct a three-storey 27-unit residential building. He has already received site plan approval. The infill development qualifies for Community Improvement Plan (CIP) “brownfield” assistance because it is helping rehabilitate an older area and provide new housing. The property will receive a combination of environmental study grant, tax assistance and brownfield redevelopment grants for a total of just over $313,000. The former social services building was abandoned in 2005, and in years since became the site of voluminous graffiti, vagrancy, prostitution and drug use. Fed-up neighbours in 2017 organized a petition to have the city take action on it. But a city building department official said the city had no power to order demolition unless the structure was physically dangerous, which it wasn’t.

Photo: Google Street View

Funds to add second floor apartments Sept. 8 2022

The city will offer funding so that more apartments can be created on top of local storefronts and other businesses. City council this week passed the change. It will provide a $2500 grant to property owners for every new residential unit up to $50,000 per property. This fits with the city’s increase emphasis on resuscitating and injecting energy into older neighbourhoods as well as community “densification.” As well, the city will provide a 100 per cent grant to pay for increased property taxes as a result of building improvements in local business districts. It’s designed to “encourage the redevelopment of vacant or underutilized property.” Finally, the city will expand the areas of business disticts under its so-called Main Streets initiative so that side streets, for example, are also eligible for incentives. The idea is to bolster areas that “would have a positive impact on supporting the Main Street and surrounding neighbourhood.” The city already has $1.2 million allotted for grants. Up to now the city has allocated funds for “façade improvements.” A minimum $3000 is for beautification like replacement of signage, lighting, awnings, cleaning and painting, removing security bars. And up to $30,000 for restoration (repointing, restoring original windows and doors, accessibility) and replacement of windows and doors lost or deteriorated beyond repair. The city matches 50 per cent of costs. Up to $60,000 can be given for a building with multiple storefronts. Repairs can also be for the side and rear of buildings that are “visible from an adjacent street, public right-of-way or park and as long as the storefront/facade facing the Main Street is improved at the same time.”

Photo: City of Windsor

West end John Muir Branch library earns unusual number of awards August 24 2022

The John Muir Branch library may be unique in winning so many awards for historical redesign. The building, former Windsor Fire Hall Number 6, on Mill St. just south of Sandwich St., has won four architectural awards. These are the 2019 Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation for exceptional achievement in conserving Ontario’s Heritage, the 2020 City of Windsor Built Heritage Award for Heritage Conservation, Adaptive Reuse & Honour, the 2021 Ontario Library Assoc. (OLA) Library Building Award, and the 2021 Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP) Conservation — Architecture Award of Excellence. “It is very unusual to receive this many awards or attention as this project has received,” Joe Dattilo, the city’s project manager on the $5.5 million restoration, which reopened in 2019 as a library in Old Sandwich Town. “We would be fortunate to have one award.” The building was also featured in an international architectural publication. The rebuild consisted of the firehall, dating back to earlier last century, and a horse stable dating to the 19th century. The architect, Jason Grossi of Windsor, carved out the main building with an atrium, skylight and converted the fire hose tower (yes, they actually hung hoses there to dry) to an observation deck with a night-time beacon. The second floor has a walkway, on a slight incline, connecting to the revamped horse stable. The building’s original brickwork was used and crews found on site the sandy soil from which the original mortar was made. “We started using it and sure enough it was an exact match because we did an analysis of the sand in the mix and it was amazing, stunning,” Dattilo said. Meanwhile, they also found some of the original flagstones used in the ramps of the Ambassador Bridge. “These bricks were just stacked and scattered,” he said. Crews incorporated them into a front square. “The path to completion was long and challenging to say the least,” the official said. “Almost daunting at times. However, looking back now with the awards in place and the positive feedback received, brings a sense of accomplishment for the whole team and the city.”

Photo: City of Windsor

Average house sale profit dropped $206,000 between February and July August 10 2022

Down down down sales go. And with them the massive loss in profits a home seller would make this year compared to last year. Since Spring – usually a time when house sales start gearing-up – the opposite has happened as the real estate market in Windsor-Essex and elsewhere in Canada are seeing major declines. According to the Windsor Essex County Association of Realtors' July stats, only one month this year saw sales gains compared to the same month last year – February - with 549 sales compared to 504 in 2021 (January had 416, down 20 but that is January, traditionally the slowest month for sales). Meanwhile, March saw 698 sales compared to last year’s 735, April 586 from 723, May 583 from 733, June 545 from 756. But the most precipitous drop happened last month – 393 compared to 666 in July 2021, a 273 difference. That’s a drop of almost 41 per cent. Sales might have been down but market activity was up with 1305 listings compared to last year’s 1054 or 24 per cent. Also, bad news for those selling but excellent news for those buying, was the major price drop. The average price reached a peak in March at $723,739 (compared to $535,708 the year before) and then has been dropping ever since, to $607,704 in June and $557,989 in July. That’s a difference of only $11,454 from July last year. Compare that to the difference year over year in March which was $188,031. Or even February which was better still at $217,651 - a pocketed difference of $206,197. Most sales – 113 – were in the $420,000 - $549,999 price range, followed by 76 in $550,000 - $699,999 and 63 in $360,000 - $419,999. Only one house sold in the cheapest range $60,000 - $99,999 and nine in the most expensive $1.4 million-plus range. Year to date the $420,000 - $549,999 range has seen the greatest number of sales at 947 followed by the $550,000 - $699,999 range with 926. House prices $1 million-plus have seen a total of 362 sales.

Graphic: Windsor Essex County Assoc of Realtors

Tarion gets yet another drubbing July 27 2022

Tarion, the Ontario government’s sometimes controversial non-profit agency that administers the province's new home warranty program, has come in for another drubbing, this time by a consumer activist. Barbara Captijn of @Reformtarion recently attended the agency’s annual public meeting. She wasn’t impressed. “After two scathing independent reports,” Captijn writes in the Toronto Sun, this was a chance for Tarion “to show consumers if it has made measurable progress in consumer protection.” Tarion is tasked with providing compensation when homebuilders don’t live up to their contractural obligations. First off, Captijn writes, Tarion’s board was not present at the meeting. “The internal ombudsman wasn’t there, as was the case in previous years; ditto for the so-called 'consumer advisory council,' which is supposed to advise the board on consumer issues,” she says. What’s more, the company hired “an external moderator” who had no ties “or knowledge” of what Tarion does. The best the agency could do was have its VP finance deliver a pre-recorded video message but wasn’t available for questions after. Moreover, those attending could only raise questions about general policies, not their own home construction issues. Questions that were raised included: why does Tarion not allow consumers to record inspections in their own homes, the role of the internal ombudsman, why Tarion pushes consumers to accept cash settlements instead of fixing building defects, Tarion’s financials and the board chair’s compensation. Tarion oversees $750 million in investments. “There should be real consumer advocates on Tarion’s board, people who understand the consumer experience with poorly built new homes,” Captijn writes. This, she says, is ironic given the PC government’s touting of a “complete overhaul” of the agency.

Westside residents say, no sidewalk but finish topping the road, please July 13 2022

Many people want sidewalks for safety and convenience. But residents of a westside Windsor street are adamantly against them. The neighbourhood was constructed over a decade ago by South Windsor Properties Inc. But for some reason sidewalks were never installed, contrary to a subdivision agreement. Now residents are being told a sidewalk on the west side of the street is to be built. Alarmed, all signed a petition against it. That included residents on both the west and east sides of the 2200 block of Roxborough Blvd., immediately south of the South Cameron Woodlot. Many have now lived in the area for years, landscaped their properties, and are happy with the aesthetic look. And the woodlot at the end of the street provides ample recreation in lieu of walking on a concrete sidewalk. City officials are puzzled why the developer never constructed the sidewalk. But that’s besides the point to residents. As one, Nick Vincelli, wrote to city hall, “Our homes have had landscaping completed including sprinkler systems etc. Sidewalks in front of our homes will take away from the aesthetics of our properties and likely lead to a devaluation of our homes.” Neighbours also say a sidewalk would take away from the “green space” of home landscaping. Said Nadeem Javed, “we all want to preserve our environments and don't want to shrink green areas by putting concrete unnecessarily.” The resident also cited increased parking taking away from the tranquility of the street, which is mostly “secluded with minimal traffic and closed at both ends.” The city also wants to install curbs and catch basins and a final layer of road asphalt. That, say, neighbours, is long overdue and welcome.

Photo: Google Street View

Proposed residential threesome would fill noticeable Lauzon Parkway gap June 29 2022

A three-building residential complex could infill Lauzon Parkway’s east side between Hawthorne Dr. and Enterprise Way or just south of the Zehrs shopping plaza at the corner of Lauzon Pkwy. and Tecumseh Rd. E. The area is currently vacant between otherwise commercial properties like the plaza attached to the John Max bar and Goodyear tire outlet. JBM Capital is proposing the development and seeking a rezoning change from mixed use/commercial for 2601 Lauzon Pkwy. There would be three, four-storey buildings with 23 units in each as well as 88 parking spaces. A city planning report calls the land “underutilized” and therefore the project “promotes intensification” a city goal to lure more development within existing urban areas rather than create new suburban sprawl or encroach on agricultural land. The development would also spur badly needed “residential growth.” The proposal offers a form of housing “appropriate in terms of range and mix, and will meet the social, health and well-being of current and future residents,” says the city report. Existing infrastructure, “active transportation” such as sidewalks and transit already exist in the far east side neighbourhood. The “medium profile” development is also close to many existing commercial services including a gym, grocery and restaurants. Traffic access to the site would be via Enterprise War or Hawthorne Dr.

Photo: Google Street View

Tower would transform west end June 6 2022

The site of a once sprawling west end bar, destroyed by fire and the land left vacant for years, could see a multi-use residential tower which would transform the far west end. The northeast corner of Sandwich Street and Chappell Ave., immediately north of Tim Hortons, could see an 11-storey mixed use building including 150 affordable housing units. The Volmer/Fahrhall industrial building is across the street. There are other industrial buildings in the immediate area, on the far west side of Sandwich Towne. But there is also housing along Sandwich Street. The applicant is Khurram Tunio of Tunio Development. There would also be two retail spaces. The proposal is going before the Development and Heritage Committee. A city administrative report says that while the closest bus stop is on Prince Rd. and Peter St. 450 metres away – and therefore “outside of Transit Windsor’s 400 metre walking distance guideline to a bus stop” – the city’s new transit master plan “will introduce a new secondary route along Sandwich Street in the area of the subject lands and will likely site a bus stop on Sandwich Street at Chappell Avenue, thereby providing a direct service to the proposed development.” The development is timely for another reason. As part of the Sandwich Street Reconstruction Project new bike lanes and parking are proposed for both sides of Sandwich St. in the immediate area. Public consultation locally found the development had “overall” support. As for filling those two commercial units the local BIA suggested a fine fit would be a grocery store, badly lacking in the west end. Planning staff have endorsed the proposal.

Image: City of Windsor

April home sales down reflect more inventory; average price $692,759 May 5 2022

The number of house sales dropped 18.95 per cent in April compared to a year ago but all other local real estate trends continue upwards. In fact the drop in sales was a function of an increase as well – more homes being on the market. “There’s a little more inventory so people had more choice,” Elica Berry, president of the Windsor Essex County Association of Realtors (photo) said. It’s just a slight calming of the market” adding she didn’t think “it’s going to last too long.” In fact market activity (listings) were up almost 13 per cent with 1074 more homes on the market, The accumulative number of homes went from 546 in January to 3384. There were 586 sales last month. The average price was $692,759, up 20.69 per cent from a year ago. Year to date the top price range was houses between $420,000 and $549,999 with 550 sold, next was $550,000 to $699,999 with 537 sold. Berry said pandemic restrictions had ended and open houses are pretty much back to what they were pre-pandemic. In other words, no masks, gloves, doffing of shoes and sanitization. Though a seller can ask for it Berry hasn’t seen requests. She said the number of people bidding is about the same, and she had 10 and seven on two houses this week. “Even if there’s one offer the price is way over asking,” June 20 and Sept. 30 are the two busiest days for closing, June because school is out “and people want to make their changes.” And Sept. 30 because vacations are over and “they’re settling in for the rest of the year.”

Is tax on home sales around corner? April 25 2022

Beware a home equity tax. That’s a tax the government would slap on the proceeds from the sale of your home. Up to now, or at least since the 1970s, proceeds from the sale of a home have always been tax free. But the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) sees the possibility of government introducing such a tax based on a study which specifically recommends such a tax. Kris Sims, CTF BC director, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), a Crown corporation, for the second time, has put money to the tune of $200,000 (the original amount was $250,000) into a study by the University of British Columbia’s Generation Squeeze group. Sims says the group is “pushing” for a “big” home equity tax. In their own words, the group recommends targeting “housing wealth windfalls gained by many homeowners while they sleep and watch TV.” The federal government has denied such concerns by the CTF and others in the past calling them “horrible reporting.” But Sims is undaunted. “Nearly half a million dollars for something the government vows it will never do? That’s like buying a backyard swimming pool when your apartment is on the 10th floor.” Sims says if the government isn’t serious about such a tax at best the studies are a “a frivolous waste of $450,000 in taxpayers’ money. At worst, it’s damning evidence that the Trudeau government is trying to tunnel taxes out of Canadians’ homes.” In email correspondence dug up by the CTF the UBC professor in charge of the study, Paul Kershaw, in reference to the tax, told a CMHC official “We are definitely serving as a punching bag for many as we work to make the politically impossible (now) possible (sooner than later).” Despite government denials Sims asked that if Ottawa isn’t planning to introduce such a tax, “why does his government require homeowners to report how much they made on the sale of their homes to the Canada Revenue Agency?”

Photo: Canadian Taxpayers Federation

For some, rent-to-own may be solution in a tight, high-priced housing market February 20 2022

In an escalating price housing market where once rather affordable homes - even in Windsor-Essex - are becoming increasingly out of reach, rent-to-own may be the answer for a certain group of buyers. The idea is exactly as stated: you pay rent for a number of years until you have sufficient cash to buy the house you’re renting. “We have seen an increased interest from people in Windsor,” the Barrie based company, established in 2015 by Brandy and Tom Mullen, says. “Sprout Properties has helped dozens of families in 2021 who would have otherwise been unable to get into the market.” The couple work with a team of real estate professionals including local mortgage brokers, realtors, lawyers, and credit repair specialists. Sprout buys the home and works with the “tenant buyer” to eventually purchase it. There is a second “option” payment credited towards the purchase price. “We work with a mortgage broker to work backwards to identify what people are missing in order to qualify for a traditional mortgage and determine what they need to save typically over a two-three year term,” Tom Mullen says. Minimum household income to qualify would be around $60,000 or one-fifth the house price. The downpayment is three per cent. Sprout holds the mortgage until the tenant buyers qualify. “We determine the future house price at time of purchase so our tenant buyers know what they will be paying in the future - that's how we make our money,” he says. ”The way we do this has worked out well for both parties as the tenant buyers typically improve the property and end up with equity in it when they buy.” Tenant buyers remain in contact with Sprout and mortgage brokers “to help keep them on track,” he says. While the program may have various upsides, it doesn’t avoid bidding wars. Mullen says the company sends tenant buyers “shopping (with) highly skilled local realtors to help us find deals on or off market.”

Photo: Sprout Properties

Longtime east riverfront eyesore to finally get heritage makeover January 27 2022

The large hulk of an abandoned industrial building that has dominated an east riverside site for years is finally getting a makeover. And by the company that owns it as its new HQ. You’d never know it from the boarded-up appearance but the building at 10150 Riverside Dr. E., next door to Sandpoint Beach, actually has architectural significance. The 1928 four storey art deco edifice is listed on the city’s heritage register. Currently owned by Southwestern Sales, a longtime local aggregate company, the building was originally the home of Monarch Liqueurs and then W. L. Webster Manufacturing office and industrial shops. Southwestern Sales also owns two adjacent properties to the west. According to a city report the owner plans to restore the building in two phases. Southwestern has contracted with local architect Jason Grossi of Studio g+G Inc. The first stage is to demolish a shed alongside the building that was built later. The delipidated nondescript one storey addition is also on the heritage register because all “secondary buildings and structures more than forty years old are included in the Windsor Municipal Heritage Register unless otherwise stated,” says the report. The shed has been causing drainage issues affecting the main building. Removing and replacing it would allow proper restoration, city heritage planner Kristina Tang said. The smaller replacement would be designed to have similar heritage features. Southwestern’s current offices are in a strip plaza on Lesperance Rd. The company has an adjacent East Windsor dock and a West Windsor dock on Detroit St. It also has docks in Kingsville, Sarnia and Sombra. Sean Fry, the company’s executive director, said it’s too soon for Southwestern to comment on the project.

Photo: City of Windsor

'Junction' redevelopers also renovating next door former 1950s UI building January 12 2022

The same group redeveloping the former streetcar bars on University Ave. W. also wants to turn an adjacent former government unemployment office into a modern set of office suites. A numbered company on behalf of Toronto-based AIPL Holdings Inc. was approved for a tax incentive package by city council last month. It also received a grant to improve the gray tired looking 1950s era façade. The two storey 33,000 sq. ft. building at the corner of University and Elm dates from 1953 and is on the city’s heritage register. AIPL wants to clean the brick, remove white paint to expose the original brick, add new windows, ambient lighting, replace metal grills with glass blocks and add a new canopy at almost $650,000. Council approved the maximum $30,000. And the group got a tax incentive under a Community Improvement Plan (CIP) for University Ave. and Wyandotte St. approved last year with an aim to “build a vision for the corridors connecting the downtown to the University of Windsor that inform a land use concept, transportation concept and enhance the surrounding communities.” The city provides an annual grant of 100 per cent for any increase in municipal taxes after the completed project is reassessed, for five years. That works out to just over $38,000 annually. Meanwhile the same numbered company acting on behalf of AIPL this week won the nod of the city’s development and heritage committee to receive similar incentives for one of two properties on the adjacent car barn site, the “east barn” known as the Junction building based on a former commercial use. It was built in 1896 and since the 1950s was used as a roller rink, toy and radio equipment distributer, Kerns contractor and most recently the Junction restaurant-entertainment space. Its undergoing final heritage designation. The facade requires brick cleaning and restoration and partial demolition and reconstruction of a south addition. The work totals $1.3 million and the city would give a facade grant $30,000 and CIP tax grant of $24,422 for five years. It could be approved for 10 years if designated a “Catalyst” project including if 20 per cent of space is used for affordable housing. City council still needs to approve.

Photo: City of Windsor

A'burg's former House of Shalom to become upscale loft condominiums December 22 2021

The one-time House of Shalom youth centre and former St. Anthony School is being converted to upscale condominiums, The Lofts at St. Anthony. Jones Realty of Amherstburg has begun gutting the inside of the 1911 building on Brock St. in the centre of town, across the street from St. John the Baptist Church. The building operated as a school until 1972 and then it was home to the House of Shalom until 2020. Jones “recognized the beauty and potential of the building as loft-styled condominiums, preserving the historic look and features while modernizing the inside with amenities necessary for today’s lifestyle,” according to a company description of the property. The Rosati Group is undertaking restoration and redesign. Jones Realty CEO Mackie Jones says the interior classroom walls have been taken down. “All of the original brick, the stone, is in there, all the original hardwood floors. Once we ripped all the carpet out it’s just beautiful,” she told There will be four floors including the basement and the former attic. Of the latter “it’s massive,” she says. The building is designated heritage and the developer has to respect those historic details. Rosati says most of the heritage elements will be kept such as exposed masonry corridors, hardwood floors, wood trim, exposed brick, “soaring ceilings, tall windows and high-transomed doorways.” Features also include rough-faced natural stone, round-arched windows and cornice detailing. “The only things that we are changing is adding windows to the roof because we can use that space up there,” Jones said. There will be 14 units altogether with prices in the $500-$600,000 range. Jones says the building, The Lofts at St. Anthony, is already being marketed through the website The realtor is John D'Alimonte at RE/MAX Preferred Realty Ltd.

[UPDATE: Dec. 24/21: The Catholic Diocese of London sold the building. Here is what diocese spokesman Matt Clarke said: "It was built by the Catholic church as a school in the early 1900 and was operated as such until it closed in the early 1970s. It was then sold for a nominal amount to a local charity to operate as a Youth Centre/House of Shalom. When the charity moved to another building, we exercised our option to take back possession and decided to sell the building and that deal closed earlier this year. The funds from the sale stay in the local community." ]

Image: Rosati Group & Jones Realty

Retail, recreation and a new hospital make South Windsor the place to be Nov 19 2021

It might be surprising to learn that this is the first major residential development to take advantage of the big box retail and entertainment offerings of south Windsor. But that’s what HD Development Group is touting to attract residents to its $100 million Trinity Gate Condominiums project. “We’re starting on phase one,” HD owner Haider Habib says. According to the project’s website, the development emphasizes the convenience and charm of the south Windsor location. “Here's your chance to own a new luxury condominium in sought after South Windsor,” it says. The condo project, in three phases, will be built at the corner of Walker Rd. and Ducharme St., just east of Hwy. 401 and a block south of Provincial Rd., where Cineplex Silver City, Lowes, Costco and numerous other big box and commercial plazas are located. That burgeoning retail has been taking shape for well over a decade yet nearby residential offerings have been slim to non-existent. “The site for this exciting development was selected because of the incredible location,” the project’s website says. The project was originally known as Castle Gate Towers Inc. Now HD has rebranded it and is marketing the mixed use residential and commercial property. Commercial will form the part of the first floor of the Tamina tower, the building closest to Walker Rd. There will be 10,000 sq. ft. of leasable space. Meanwhile there will be 226 condo units over the entire three buildings. In fact, HD is promoting the area as a self-contained community and despite its suburban location, services and recreation are right outside the door. “Within a master planned community, it is in walking distance of parks, walking trails, splash pad, restaurants, shopping, entertainment and Talbot Trail elementary school. One does not need to own a vehicle to enjoy all this community has to offer!” The location is also close to YQG Windsor International Airport, the new mega hospital and of course Hwy. 401. Typically, the development features a “contemporary” style 58-unit, six storey building clad in brick, stucco, siding and stone. HD's Habib has been in the development business 25 years. Other HD projects are the $80 million Rockport St. @ Talbot Trail, an 80-unit detached custom home development and Village South Condominiums, a $10 million, 20 unit, three storey rental building.

Image: HD Development Group

"Hong Kong" mentality fuels developer October 20 2021

Call it the “Hong Kong” syndrome. Wing On Li is an up-and-coming Windsor developer, CEO of the Horizons Group, born and raised in Hong Kong and who started investing in the Windsor market almost a decade ago. “Hong Kong is a very fast-moving place,” he said. “We don’t walk to get things done we run.” He’s certainly brought that ethos to Windsor with several large-scale property developments under construction or in the planning and municipal approval stages. Among these is his new Riverside Horizons, still winding its through city hall but with construction likely starting next spring. Located a short block east of the Ford Powerhouse the 10 storey – two floor parking and eight residential - condo tower would offer luxury living with all units facing the river. The $30 million development would be built on .75 acres with existing single family homes behind it. The developer has bought one home as a buffer “so we are not going to create a problem for our neighbours,” he said. On the east side is a high-rise retirement building. Wing Li’s other projects in LaSalle, LaSalle Horizons and Laurier Horizons, likely will begin construction next month. 80-unit Lasalle Horizons “boutique” condos is already sold out with prices from the low $200,000s. Further out in the county, his plan for rural Colchester Bay is for 400 “cottage lifestyle” homes “designed for people who want a quiet waterfront life.” Back in Windsor two projects are in the “consultation” stage with regard to rezoning, he said. These are Ganatchio Gardens – “a big project” - with 300 units. Another is Lakefront Heights at the site of the old Riverside Sportsmen Club; 200 units will be built. Already completed and occupied is Eastside Horizons at Banwell Rd. and Firgrove Dr., a three tower, seven storey 180-unit complex. With the exception of Riverside Horizons – a luxury building priced in part to recoup the expense of building there - all the buildings are condos but “affordable by most people in Windsor otherwise we’d be out of a job very soon,” he laughs. Wing Li is no newcomer to Windsor and invested in what was a depressed housing market beginning in 2014. “That’s why we know the market pretty well, we know the market is recovering,” he said. Big time, that is.

Image: Horizons Group

Windsor housing supply better than most in responding to price increases Sept. 28 2021

Windsor does fairly well with increasing its housing supply in response to house price increases. A Bank of Canada study surveyed 33 Canadian housing markets and found wide discrepancies in housing price increases triggering more supply. A one per cent increase in house prices triggered an average increase in supply of 2.2 per cent. Vancouver, Canada’s most expensive housing market, saw only a 0.63 per cent increase in housing supply or “elasticity”. It had the second lowest housing supply increase after Regina. Winnipeg, by contrast, saw a 4.34 per cent, one the highest supply jumps – 27th best of the 33 markets. Windsor? We came in at 22, at just under a 3 per cent increase. The best market was St. John’s which saw an 8 per cent supply jump. In southern Ontario Oshawa showed less than a 2 per cent increase while Barrie’s jumped to more than 3.5 per cent. “These estimates imply that a 1 percent increase in house prices in the median Canadian city is associated with an increase in housing supply of 2.2 percent,” study author and BoC senior economist Nuno Paixão writes. “Alternatively, we can think that, all else equal, a 1 percent increase in housing demand leads to an increase in house prices in the median city of 0.45 percent (1/2.2).” Commenting on the study in the Financial Post, real estate analysts Murtaza Haider and Stephen Moranis said, “A comparison across all cities in the study revealed that housing prices rose much faster over time in cities with relatively lower supply.” As for government policy, they concluded that the re-elected Liberal government’s plan for increasing housing supply in Canada, the lack of which has been called a crisis, is far from adequate. “The current Liberal plan to build or refurbish 1.4 million homes over four years will certainly not be enough because that doesn’t even add 100,000 more homes per year than what will be built under business as usual,” they write. “Tinkering at the margins has not been effective, nor will it be in the future.”

A decades long dream, Wyandotte Street East will finally be completed Sept. 6 2021

City of Windsor officials are putting the finishing touches on a plan to extend Wyandotte St. E. to Jarvis Ave. It’s a decades-old dream by the city and the former Town of Riverside. It would be the last extension of Wyandotte St., connecting East Riverside (on the west) to what’s known as the Lakeview Planning District on the east, less than a city block long. The road would cut diagonally through properties between Banwell (on the west) and Jarvis (on the east) on a city owned right of way. Two public information sessions have been held as the city finishes its environmental assessment. But the planning is tricky. Planner Andrew Dowie says the idea is to connect East Riverside to Jarvis because there’s currently limited access. This would provide “significant” improvement in emergency response as well as better access for city services like snow and garbage removal. Access currently is awkward from distance arteries. But, says Dowie, “it’s not just for motor vehicles it’s also for pedestrians and bicycles.” However, residents of Jarvis are concerned Wyandotte could now be used as a through route and more traffic upset their tranquil neighbourhood. Dowie says “traffic calming” measures will be introduced. As well, the city will keep the rural character of the street by rebuilding Jarvis but in a way that will keep the “naturalized environment.” This will be through a new drainage system that will allow “low impact” development. This is a new concept for the city but has already been installed along Pentilly Rd. in Tecumseh. A metal cage is submerged, and natural vegetation grows through it. This “structural grass” is strong enough to support vehicles. “We’d send the water to the ditch and then through periodic field basins the ditch could then be emptied into the storm sewer system underground,” Dowie says. He said the system was invented more than a decade ago in Vancouver. It would therefore “help alleviate the residents’ concerns but would still provide technical improvements.” The EA still must be approved by city council before any funding is allocated.

Photo: Google Street View

Yes, this was the Sandwich Towne Hall August 17 2021

It’s easy to drive by without noticing the sign on the front of the building. But, right beside Sandwich Towne’s Mackenzie Hall on Sandwich St., is another very historic building. It’s called the Sandwich Towne Hall. The sign is no gimmick. It actually reflects the fact the building was the historic Town of Sandwich’s town hall before Windsor annexed the community in the mid-1930s. Several years ago the owners, a local couple, restored the building and added the name, reflecting its historic roots. ( was unable to confirm the owners’ names or contact them.) Over the years the two-storey red brick building, which has the look of a grand old house, has served various purposes – town hall, a jail in the basement, a school house and, in recent years, apartments for specifically law students. “I believe it was opened by the Duke of Devonshire and his wife,” Devonshire also being the namesake of Devonshire Mall, Devonshire Heights Park and the old Devonshire Race Track, said Sandwich historian Terry Kennedy. Kennedy said there were many famous people who visited the stately building when the Town of Sandwich still arguably had greater stature than the City of Windsor. Kennedy lauded the current building’s owners. “They manage it very nicely,” he said. He said during the restoration a decade ago the couple added the Sandwich Towne Hall name at “maybe $30 or $40 per letter.” Kennedy said each apartment is also named after a municipal councillor of the era. He said the historic building occasionally draws attention from passersby. “You see the tourists always looking to go through the door” but then realizing it’s an apartment residence, Kennedy laughed. Kennedy, who knows of many absentee landlords in the neighbourhood who let their properties run down, had only praise for the upkeep of this heritage building which adds to the neighbourhood's historic roots.

Photo: Google Street View

Brownfields: $13.8 privately invested for every dollar in city incentives July 27 2021

Since the city began offering incentives to redevelop “brownfield” sites more than a decade ago, the private sector investment has been $13.8 for every dollar provided by the city. That’s according to a city planning department report reviewing the program. Forty-two brownfield projects have been approved totaling almost 50 hectares including 962 housing units. Rule of thumb is that every hectare redeveloped through a brownfield project saves 4.5 hectares of greenfield or undeveloped land. Some might call that land sprawl. So, the 42 approvals will save some 217 hectares of greenfield. Brownfield sites are lands that have possibly been contaminated by previous industrial or commercial use such as factories or even gas stations. The city has awarded more than $13 million in incentives, “anticipated” to increase property value assessment by $216 million, says the report. It also will see $183 million in private investment as per the above-mentioned ratio of $13.8 leveraged from each city dollar. In 2009 the city identified 137 brownfield properties (226 hectares or 559 acres) for redevelopment. Incentives are provided under the Brownfield Redevelopment Community Improvement Plan (CIP). Applications from the private sector were initially slow with only four approved between 2010-15. Then they accelerated: 37 from 2016-2021 with 15 approved since January 2020. The CIP has a Municipal Leadership Strategy to promote the program. Under it, the “most significant” redeveloped site was the former Wickes Manufacturing (photo taken in 2014) on Tecumseh Rd. E., now a U-Haul location.

Photo: City of Windsor

Islamic Assoc plans five midsize apt. buildings across from Windsor Mosque July 7 2021

City staff are recommending approval of a major plan by the Windsor Islamic Association to build five medium rise apartment buildings to house largely members of its senior community immediately across the street from the Windsor Mosque. The just over half hectare property on the northeast corner of Dominion and Northwood is mostly currently vacant. (Overhead photo shows Windsor Mosque on the bottom left.) One of the buildings – each housing six units – would face Northwood and the remainder would front Dominion. “The apartment units are proposed to be rental apartments with a focus rental market of the senior members of the Mosque community,” a report to the Development and Heritage Committee says. There would also be 42 on-site parking spaces and landscaping. The buildings, dubbed “Dominion Apartments,” have a classic brick look with peaked roofs. The site’s zoning would change from current “low profile residential” to “medium” profile. North of the site are single family homes. “The subject neighbourhood is characterized by the existing mix of low profile residential uses (single unit dwellings) and institutional uses (schools and place of worship),” the planning report says. For example, Northwood Elementary School and Holy Names High School are nearby. The area is immediately served by the Dominion 5 bus route. Planners says the proposal will develop “underutilized” lands “promoting an efficient development and land use pattern.” The development is consistent with land use planning policy. It will “increase housing options” in the area and promotes “residential intensification and compact form of neighbourhood.” The planning report also says the project supports “active transportation and connectivity through the existing and planned sidewalks and bike lanes.”

Photo: Google Satellite

And now for Anuj Sood's second act: suburban townhomes in south Windsor June 23 2021

Fresh from starting construction on one of the city’s biggest infill projects in an otherwise neglected industrial neighbourhood, developer Anuj Sood will bring a major townhome project to south Windsor not far from Devonshire Mall. The yet to be name neighbourhood would be constructed on the former parking and storage lot behind a 155,000 sq. ft. industrial building that fronts Division Road. It used to be home to companies such as Martinrea but hasn’t seen production in likely a decade. Sood bought the property two years ago and has been carrying out extensive interior and exterior renovations. He is leasing the building out and already has one tenant, Reactive Manufacturing. “We’ve painted the whole thing and we’ve made it look more modern,” he said. ”It used to have brown brick it just looked like an old beat up building.” The city is providing $22,950 towards an environmental assessment under a Brownfield redevelopment Community Improvement Plan (CIP), the most it can provide. Sood picks up the remaining cost. The 27-acre property lies directly south of Marentette Ave. with entrance off Kamloops St. Noted the city in a report, the site “has previously been used for parking as well as storage of construction and fill material.” The EA will assess the soil and groundwater quality and determine “the extent of any contamination.” The city says there has been “little interest in redeveloping brownfield sites due to the uncertainty surrounding the extent of contamination and the potential cost of clean-up.” While Sood’s Walkerville project has a definite urban brownstone look to match the adjacent historical Walkerville neighbourhood, the south Windsor project would be more suburban-like with “ranch style” one storey homes with basements. No branding or price points have been set. “We haven’t made it that far,” he said, noting architects are still working on final drawings, Asked if there would be a buffer between the industrial building, used for light manufacturing and warehousing, and the neighbourhood, he said, “we would make a nice landscaped buffer…I know there’s an existing ditch already there so we would just kind of put something on one side or the other on it.”

Photo: Anuj Sood

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No permanent closure of Janette Ave. due to Farhi towers project

Despite nearby residents’ fears Janette Ave., a well-used one-way thoroughfare from Riverside Dr. south into central Windsor, will not be closed permanently or even during construction of the planned 28 storey Farhi residential tower. It's the first of two towers slated for construction on either side of Janette at the river. “A permanent closure of Janette Ave. is not necessary to complete of the development,” city planner Jim Abbs says. “Temporary closure may be required as part of the construction process.” - 11/22/22

Photo: Google Street View

Province eyes duplexes and triplexes within single house

The Toronto Star reports the province in its zeal to accelerate new housing construction will override local zoning laws to allow duplex and triplexes. The government wants to “remove rules that prevent missing middle” housing — multidwelling units that are now prevented by municipal zoning that favours single-family houses. Two and three units will be allowed in existing houses. The Ford government will also limit conservation agencies to “commenting” on proposed developments rather than stall new housing over concerns like natural areas or flood plains. “You have to have bold, transformative change in the immediate and long term,” Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark said. – 22/11/16

Hiatus House may expand across street

Hiatus House, a shelter for women and children, may be expanding across the street. It's requesting a $25,000 environmental assessment grant from the city. The site on Louis Ave. between Chatham St. E. and University Ave., is less than one acre, currently unoccupied and used to house family residences. But "contamination has been discovered as a result of fill material placed at the property over the years," a city report says. The owner would "redevelop the site for residential use." The grant comes under brownfield redevelopment and the city's Community Improvement Plan (CIP), which seeks to aid city centre growth. - 10/12/22

Photo: Google Street View

Cottage homes could be a first for Windsor

A “cottage style” housing development, unique to Windsor, is one of two concepts for housing proposed for the former Concord School site at 6700 Raymond Ave. on the city’s east side. It would border the south side of Farrow Riverside Miracle Park, redeveloped in 2017. But, say city staff, the cottage concept “has many challenges” including it has “not been tested” in the local market. Traditional front porches would open on to green space with vehicle access from rear lanes. The other proposal is a traditional cul-de-sac with single-detached homes fronting on to a regular street. – 9/28/22

Windsor and Detroit median home prices almost $400k apart

While the median sale price of a house in Windsor in August was $472,500 – down 6.44 per cent from the same month a year ago – our big city brother across the river, Detroit, saw its media price increase. July realty stats for the Motor City show the median price was $100,000. That’s a gain of 42 per cent from $70,000 over the past year. Farmington Hills-based Realcomp said it’s the highest recorded sale price since the firm began tracking in 1994. According to The Detroit News experts say the increase stems from redevelopment of downtown Detroit, stabilizing neighborhoods and improvement in the city’s housing stock. – 9/14/22

Photo: Curbed Detroit

Windsor homes sixth for affordability

Windsor came in sixth in a Re/Max survey of the most affordable cities in Eastern Canada. It would take 54.18 per cent of household income to pay the mortgage on an average residence in the Rose City. The survey looked at 14 cities. No surprise Toronto came in as least affordable with 100.97 per cent of income needed, London came in ninth at 62.59 per cent. The cheapest city? Thunder Bay at just 29.78 per cent as the average house price so far this year has been $370,761.00. – 8/22/2022

New tower to arise on Joe Louis Arena site

Coming soon to that gap in the Detroit skyline that used to be Joe Louis Arena – a 25 storey multi-residential tower. Developer says the building will be “coming” in 2024. The announcement is conditional on certain government conditions being met and therefore government financing. The complex would have 500 units and will be located immediately east of the three contemporary angled residential complexes west of the former Joe site on the Detroit waterfront. – 8/8/22

Image: 600associates

Too soon to assess real estate impact of battery plant - Lalovich

It's too soon to tell how the new Stellantis – LG Energy battery plant is affecting the local real estate market. The $5 billion plant at the southwest corner of County Rd. 22 (EC Row) and Manning Rd. will create up to 2500 jobs when it opens in 2015. “I think it’s just too far off yet,” Mark Lalovich, realtor and spokesman for the Essex County Association of Realtors, said. “I don’t think there would be anything measurable out there in terms of an increase specifically because of the battery plant. Having said that, I think (the news) is very positive. It’s going to create a great deal of employment and good paying jobs and that will translate into house owners and house ownership but I think that is still two to three years out before we really start to see that.” – 7/25/22

Windsor area doesn't make 2022 best place to buy real estate list

Is it the “end of Hwy. 401 syndrome” or the fact the Rose City and environs still haven’t been “discovered?” Windsor didn’t make the cut for the best places to buy real estate in 2022. That’s despite the fact June’s average home price locally was $607,704, much lower than many other cities listed. Zoocasa, a full-service real estate brokerage, publishes the annual survey in Moneysense magazine. It considered average home prices, price growth over time, neighbourhood characteristics and economics. Greater Moncton led at $302,400. The closest area to Windsor was London and St. Thomas ranking number 5 at $657,600. In Ontario the most favorable city was North Bay, ranking number 2 overall at $385,100. The lowest rated Canadian city, no surprise, was Vancouver at $1,230,200. – 7/11/22

First-time homebuyer program had little uptake, MP says

The First-time Home Buyer Incentive has hardly received the uptake the government had in store for it, says an opposition MP. Unveiled in 2019 the government said it would help 100,000 Canadians buy their first home. But Conservative Matt Jeneroux says only 16,000 have been helped. The program offered between five and 10 per cent towards the down payment as long as the family income was below $120,000, the mortgage did not exceed four time their income and they could put up minimum five per cent. The CMHC then would take an equivalent stake in the property recouping the value of the interest-free loan at sale. Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen’s office said the government is looking at ways to make the program “more flexible and responsive.” Mortgage experts had said the program was too restrictive in a hot housing market and required extra legal fees. – 6/27/22

McKee Park set to go from bland to grand

McKee Park in the city’s west end will be undergoing major renovations in large part funded through community benefits from the new Gordie Howe International Bridge consortium. McKee is west of Sandwich St. and borders the Detroit River. The improvements would be a big change – making the park much more attractive and inviting. The changes include a boat ramp, picnic tables, a playground, boardwalks and parking for 40 cars. The city says the “existing boardwalk, pathways, and playground are nearing the end of their lifecycles, and that due to their age, maintenance of the amenities is becoming increasingly challenging.” The upgrade would also see new decorative lampposts and benches matching such features elsewhere in Sandwich Towne. There would also be a new gazebo. – 6/7/22

Photo: Google Street View

Transit garage expansion could impact adjacent waste recycling facility

Transit Windsor is looking at expanding its garage and headquarters on North Service Rd. (EC Row) near Central Ave., which could also result in changes to the next-door city solid waste facility. The city had approved $250,000 for a completed garage feasibility study, an early step in eventually implementing a virtually complete overhaul of transit operations including routes and fleets under the eight-year transit master plan. Now a detailed analysis will be carried out on the “existing garage and surrounding properties.” The consultant will evaluate “the Transit Windsor Garage and the adjacent Waste Management site to evaluate the existing configuration of the two sites, and additional lands to the east if needed,” says a City Council report. This to determine capacity needed for “new and existing routes.” – 5/3/22

Photo: Google Satellite View

One-third of homes have the same owner

One-third of property owners are multiple property owners. Statistics Canada reports that 31 per cent of all homes in Ontario and about the same in BC were owned by the same people. It was even higher Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where the data was close to 40. Meanwhile the top 10 per cent of owners in BC controlled 29 per cent of all residential value. The survey dates to just before the pandemic and the government says the numbers might now underestimate the degree of multiple home ownership. In fact, more recent Bank of Canada data shows multiple owners have increase market share. At the same time first time homeowners are a smaller share of the market. Said the report, multiple ownership makes it “more difficult for prospective homeowners to purchase a home.” – 4/21/22

More infill coming

Just what the city needs, according to city planners, urbanists and simply people who need more housing and likely at prices much cheaper than build from scratch suburban homes. A couple of proposals before city council would see dozens of new units built in older neighbourhoods. One plan for the southwest corner of Tecumseh Rd. E. and Robinet Rd. would add 21 units over three floors. The second on Riverside Dr. E., west of Pierre Ave., (image) would add eight units also over three floors. - 28/2/22

Image: Pillon Abbs Inc.

Former Beer Exchange building getting a contemporary makeover

The former Beer Exchange building at 493 University Ave. W. on the edge of downtown is being converted into a mixed commercial residential building with contemporary eye appeal. It’s another example of how underused or dormant buildings along the wide strip are being renovated partly in anticipation of a remake of the street as a gateway to downtown from the University of Windsor. The proponent, Jackie Lassaline, received city approval for grant and tax incentives under the city’s Community Improvement Plan. The building is also known as the old Navy Club. Lassaline plans to maintain the ground floor for commercial or retail, add one residential, and add three residential units upstairs. “The intention is to continue pressing the residential density that's so badly needed in the downtown core,” says Rhys Trenhaile, who with Greg Miell of The Vanguard Team at Manor Realty, is overseeing the conversion. The first floor would also see a smaller restaurant, bistro or café. The Beer Exchange is long gone. “The exterior will see a major overhaul bringing a lot of architectural beauty to that corner,” Trenhaile said. – 1/28/22

Rosati Group's unique tenant ecosystem

The Rosati Group believes in supporting its tenants. The longtime local developer offers a gift card to tenants that can be used in retail locations of other tenants. Says Twisted Apron owner Kate Robinson, who just signed a lease with Rosati as she moves into a new Walkerville location (see RESTAURANTS), instead of giving Christmas gifts “they give Rosati gift cards and those cards can be spent in their buildings.” The cards list Rosati’s commercial tenants like retailers. “So they support their tenants,” Robinson says. Robinson had been looking at buying her own building but was so “super impressed” with Rosati she decided to lease from them, calling the company ”awesome to work with.” – 1/6/22

Howard Avenue developer seeking greater bldg height

ADE Development & Leasing Corp. is requesting a minor variance to allow an additional two metres height – from 12 to 14 metres – for a multi-unit building on the east side of Howard Ave. north of Cabana Rd. An adjacent 44 semi-detached home development is already underway by the same company. The building would be four-stories and have 65 units. There would also be 104 parking spaces. ADE also wants a six metre side yard setback decreased to four metres. Three nearby residents opposed the application but all live on Howard Ave. where the six metre setback would still be in effect and two properties are 31 and 66 metres away. The applicant “is requesting an additional two metres to permit grander ceiling heights,” ADE's consultant, Dillion, says. Should council pass the recommendation area residents would still be able to address the issue at the city’s Committee of Adjustment. – 12/16/21

Photo: Google satellite

Homelessness locally is up 30 per cent

The biannual so-called "point in time" count of Windsor-Essex’s homeless last March found a 27 per cent increase of those experiencing homelessness compared to the last survey in 2018. That amounted to 251 “on any given night” not having a permanent roof over their heads. In 2018, there were 197. But it represented a 25 per cent increase from 201 people in 2016. (The survey was postponed from 2020 due to Covid.) Of these, 198 were single adults, there were 14 families with 26 dependent children (40 in families altogether) and 13 youth. “Single adults increasingly represent the face of homelessness in Windsor Essex,” the report says. Moreover, chronic or long-term homelessness is growing – a 25% increase among single adults and youth and a more than sixfold increase in families. And the average number of days of being homeless also “rose significantly” since 2018 to almost 300. The purpose of the survey is to help strengthen homeless assistance. – 11/24/21


French immersion school taking shape

That construction you see on McDougall St. south of Erie St. is the back side of the new James L. Dunn Public School, a conversion of the former International Playing Card factory on Mercer St., one block east. It will be the new home for French immersion students in the northwest section of the city, according to the school board. Since 2011 those students have temporarily gone to W.D. Lowe High School until a business case was made for the new school. The more than $15 million project is expected to be completed this year and the school to receive students by September. The general contractor is Sterling Ridge. – 11/8/21

Developer targets GTA East Indian market

Housing refugees from the GTA may not be a new phenomenon in Windsor-Essex. But a subset of those refugees – people priced out of that area’s costly housing market – is East Indians. Specifically, those from the Brampton area. Brampton is a huge hub for trucking. And many of the people driving intercity rigs and owning the companies are East Indians and Sikhs. Peter Valente, CEO of Valente Homes, said that’s the exact market his new Essex Town Centre town homes project is aimed at. “Eighty per cent of our buyers are from the GTA and specifically Brampton,” he says. Because they’re mobile, subject to regulated work hours and work out of different terminals “they don’t need to live in the GTA,” Valente says. These families, in turn, can attract relatives from their South Asian homes to Windsor-Essex and not just the GTA, adding to the market potential.– 10/20/21

Photo: Valente Homes

Long empty Huron Lodge site to be redeveloped

Developers can’t say too much at this point but the long dormant former Huron Lodge site on Huron Church Rd., is now on the cusp of retail development. “We are proposing a typical retail centre, with a mix of uses including some restaurants and services, along with the retail,” Dave Traher, Westdell Corp. VP said. “I cannot at this time disclose who the tenants are.” The London-based developer has had a sign on the property across from Ambassador Plaza advertising commercial leasing opportunities. The wedge-shaped site is on the southwest corner of Huron Church and Tecumseh Rd. W. and is now an open field. Access would be from Huron Church with a “right in - right out” with a raised concrete island from the existing and extended fourth lane. Other access would be from Tecumseh Rd. and Dorchester Rd. on the south. – 10/5/21

Photo: Google Street View

Mackenzie Hall is getting $750K facelift

Windsor’s Mackenzie Hall is undergoing a facelift. Facade work is to continue through November by Roof Tile Management on the $750,000+ project. Basically, the former Portland cement mortar joints are being replaced by lime mortar on the exterior limestone and sandstone façade. The work includes repointing, stone repair and cleaning. “These repairs are necessary because masonry is prone to deteriorate over time and requires regular maintenance and cleaning to ensure the visual and structural integrity of the building,” Brandon Calleja of the city’s facility division said. – 9/15/21

FL3X Fitness bldg sold

The former FL3X Fitness building at 10700 Tecumseh Rd E has been sold. The property had several names over the years and had been a fitness club for “at least” a decade, former building owner David Petretta, a local developer and builder, said. “All I can tell you is that the new buyers are redeveloping it for a different use. I can’t tell you exactly what that use is yet although I’m sure you’ll certainly find out,” Petretta owned the property for about a year. An attempt to reach the new owners was unsuccessful. – 8/24/21

Photo: Google Street View

Old downtown bus depot - forlorn as ever

There, the old Windsor Greyhound terminal sits, abandoned and forlorn. Even after all these years, the 1940 art deco “Moderne” building, closed more than a decade ago when the new Transit Windsor terminal opened, sits undeveloped and is arguably an eyesore. The University of Windsor purchased the site and Armouries across the street with plans to convert for educational purposes. The Armouries was converted into class and performing arts space for the U’s arts programs. But there have been problems with the bus depot, owing in part to it sitting directly over the Windsor-Detroit tunnel and conversion limited in depth and weight. The historic façade was to be kept. University spokeswoman Lori Lewis said nothing has changed with the stalled development. “I’m not aware of any immediate plans,” she said. – 8/12/21