Windsor Ontario News / Buildings, Homes & Real Estate

Telecommuting, better PR, could make Windsor more of a Toronto “suburb” April 11 2017

Windsor may be too far away from Toronto to feel the spill over from that region’s skyrocketing house prices.

Or is it?

With today’s technology, and a little better PR, the city could end up being the destination for more and more housing refugees – people priced out of the GTA because of homes topping $900,000.

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City's heritage ads cost thousands March 27 2017

The cost of placing four ads in The Windsor Star informing of the City of Windsor’s “intention to designate” four properties for heritage purposes this past Saturday was $2,879.24.

An additional notice informing of a recently passed bylaw to officially designate another property cost $481.38.

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City's most prestigious office building using address signs to market space February 22 2017

One Riverside Dr., the city’s most prestigious business address, has decided to market its vacant office space by advertising its current tenants on new sidewalk signs.

The tower, which most people know as Fiat Chrysler headquarters or the Canderel Building (a previous owner), has long had problems filling the 14-storey edifice with tenants.

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Blockbuster condo complex proposed for Kingsville's "new downtown" January 19 2017

A major nine storey upscale commercial and condo building would transform part of Kingsville and add high density to a developing commercial district east of the downtown core.

Known as Kings' Villa Condos, local developer Joe Moavro is still seeking town approval and a second Planning Advisory Committee meeting is soon to take place, the first being held late last year.

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Sportsplex subdivision expected to draw active families to the burg Sept. 14 2016

You’ve heard of subdivisions bordering golf courses.

But this new subdivision will be across the street from a major athletic complex.

Amherstburg’s Nor-Built construction has received the green light to go ahead with a 150 residential housing development located diagonally across from the town’s Libro Credit Union Centre, one of the county’s most sophisticated sportsplexes.

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City waives development fees, but would tax holiday be more effective? August 9 2016

City council decided last week to waive development fees for the central city to encourage residential development and prevent continuing hollowing out of the area north of Tecumseh Road and between the far west side and Pillette Road.

But will waiving development fees – which could amount to perhaps as much as $20,000 saving to construct a detached single family home – be enough to spur construction?

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Rooftop solar panels losing stigma June 22 2016

The stigma, if ever there was one, doesn’t seem to exist that much anymore.

More and more people seem to be installing solar roof panels on their houses.

The company that spearheaded residential solar panel installations in Windsor is Unconquered Sun, which has now installed “close to 500” sets of panels, the owner says.

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Eye-popping GTA prices here? Sometimes it might seem that way May 1 2016

$725,000, $619,900, $689,900, $899,900, $599,900, $949,900, $799,000.

How about $1,199,000, $1.2 million, $2,295,000, $2,475,000?

Sometimes, scanning the real estate advertisements, you might be forgiven for thinking that prices in Windsor-Essex are reaching those in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

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Sales picking up for Club Lofts, former whisky warehouse, after slow start April 1 2016

Club Lofts Condominium, which has to be one of the most unique condo projects in southern Ontario – or anywhere – is selling again.

The former Hiram Walker whisky barrel warehouse on the edge of trendy Walkerville saw its first move-ins in late 2010 and early 2011, then sales dropped off, but have picked up of late, according to Vince Mancina of 4V Group Realty.

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Are brownstones an answer to downtown development woes? February 4 2016

What could be the secret to success of downtown Windsor? New downtown brownstones, the kind that have enlivened other city centers across North America, include just across the river in metro Detroit.

Downtown boosters have long called for more residential development to complement the movement of university and college students to new downtown campuses, and to enliven a moribund retail district.

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Tarion home warranty review "a long time coming," says housing advocate

Windsor Ontario January 19 2016

Tarion, which administers the warranty program that homeowners by law must purchase when buying a new house and which has long been the target of criticism by consumer advocates, is being reviewed by the Ontario government.

Retired Ontario Superior Court Justice J. Douglas Cunningham has been appointed to review Tarion and the legislation that the not for profit corporation administers, the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act.

Photo: Tarion

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"Freehold strata" development, not "condos," will be "decorator ready" November 24 2015

Amherstburg’s new Queen Charlotte residences introduce a new concept to the local real estate market - “freehold strata.”

The temptation might be to call the new complex, which will have six commercial units and six residential units - each two storey - “condos” but they’re not.

“You don’t see it much here but it certainly suits a smaller development like this where you don’t want to get into the whole cost of a condo corporation and audited financial statements,” one of the development partners, Gary Wellman said.

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Bob-Lo introducing Cottage Collection October 15 2015

The area’s first major housing development devoted exclusively to cottages is coming to Bob-Lo Island.

The “Cottage Collection” will also help the island in the Detroit River live up to its name “marine resort community.”

Bob-Lo Island Developments general manager Sandra Couloufis said as many as two dozen cottages will be built, with the first ones likely finished at the end of 2016.

“We’re calling them our Cottage Collection,” she said.

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West Coast developer big on Windsor August 4 2015

Sometimes it takes outsiders to be the city’s real boosters.

That’s certainly the case with Langley B.C. developer Darcy White, who has bought several large Windsor apartment buildings in recent years.

White, of Rho-Orion Investments Inc., is so big on Windsor he has travelled here some 50 times over the last five years.

In addition he’s personally evaluated some 500 buildings.

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Synagogue needs emergency repairs July 8 2015

It’s not as big a renovation project as Assumption Church.

But Windsor’s most prominent synagogue, Shaar Hashomayim on Giles Blvd. E., is requiring $100,000 in emergency funds mainly to repair the roof.

The synagogue was built in 1929 and has a complicated roof design.

Three quarters of it is a peaked roof and the front is marked by smaller white domes.

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Sales starting for Amherstburg's newest luxury condo building May 28 2015

Prices have been released and sales have started for Amherstburg’s newest condominium building.

The Echo Riverside Condominiums’ units will start at $484,600 including HST for the upscale luxury building that will be constructed on the site of the former Amherstburg Echo newspaper building in downtown Amherstburg.

That’s for a west view riverside 1450 sq. ft. unit with one bedroom plus den and two bathrooms.

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January price drop no reflection of wider area housing market - realtor March 4 2015

The price of an average home in Windsor-Essex took a plunge in January by 1.3 per cent below January of the year before.

Butr the president of the Windsor-Essex County Association of Realtors says that’s s snapshot really, and a very narrow snapshot.

“When you look at a one month figure it’s kind of difficult to say what’s happening because it’s better to really look at a 12 month average,” Cameron Paine (above left) said.

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Developer laments SW Ontario's lack of high rise construction skills Dec 12 2014

A prominent Brampton-based developer has moved into southwestern Ontario but Chatham is the furthest he’s going for now, and he’s got good reasons.

One of the most difficult aspects of building Victor Boutin’s The Boardwalk (pictured) 13-storey condo tower on King Street in downtown Chatham was finding skilled staff in southwestern Ontario.

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Renovation tax credit, apprentices, top Ont Home Builders’ agenda Nov 19 2014

The Ontario Home Builders Association would like a tax credit to counter widespread black market construction.

Joe Vaccaro, CEO of the Toronto-based organization, said this would provide an “incentive” to keep builders and renovators accountable.

“When you provide a tax credit what you’re doing is you’re creating a paper trail,” he said.

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Rent controls would kill budding new apt market - economist

High profile Canadian bank analyst Benjamin Tal (left) says the worst thing the province could do to kill a budding apartment construction industry is bring back rent controls, which don’t exist for new buildings. Tal, CIBC’s deputy chief economist, was reacting to a call to reintroduce the controls because of a more than 10 per cent average rent increase in Toronto last year due to the shift in apartment construction because of the city’s overheated housing market. Some 5000 new apartment units are about to hit the market with 28,000 proposed. Tal said some developers are already cancelling projects. “Even the very mention of rental control as an option is having a chilling effect on developers,” the Financial Post quoted Tal as saying. “From recent discussions with developers we know that it’s already impacting decisions.” – 7/4/17

New Ouellette health centre has wow factor

A new medical landmark is taking shape on Ouellette Avenue but the doctors involved in the clinical practice aren’t interested in talking about it. Requests by to obtain comment from physicians at the Smile and Body clinic were turned down. According to the clinic’s website there are four physicians practicing as aesthetics doctors including Chris Blue and Herman Kupeyan. The clinic provides dentistry and implant dentistry, facelifts, acne scar-removal and neck lifts. If aesthetics is the name of the game the doctors surely will have a spectacular new building that symbolizes it, full of different levels and lots of glass. The office at 1083 Ouellette (aka Ouellette Health Centre) at the corner of Pine St. has been temporarily moved while the centre, originally a large older house, gets the makeover, enveloped by the new construction. Keystone General Contractors of Windsor, whose portfolio includes Lighting Boutique on Walker and Leopards Lounge on Wyandotte St., got the commission. – 21/2/17

Old - not heritage - garage, coming down

An old garage that makes up part of a piece of land for a new Sandwich Towne library will be torn down. But other older buildings on the site, including a horse stable, will remain in place when the new John Muir Public Library starts construction, likely this spring. The three door garage has no significant value, according to a city report. “It is a minor property feature, less than half the size of the adjacent stable,” it says. “This garage structure has a hodgepodge of concrete block ... and in some areas severely deteriorated.” Once demolished the area will be landscaped. The new library will incorporate “adaptive reuse” of the fire hall, fronting on Mill Street, as well as the stable located between the hall and garage. City project manager Joe Dattilo said “designated substances” like asbestos and lead will have to be removed. The city is receiving proposals for prequalification from contractors. Tenders will go out this spring. The new building will link the fire hall and stable, separated by about 30 ft. Parking will be located where a gravel lot now exists. John Muir was a former local principal and tireless advocate for a Sandwich library. He died in July. Up to now the library has shared space with General Brock Public School. – 5/1/17

COMMENT - A'burg's motel woes over?

With the news that Amherstburg town council has voted to purchase Duffy’s Tavern and accompanying Motor Inn (Re/Max price $2,500,888, council bought for $1.675-million) this raises an intriguing question about the town’s quickly diminishing tourist accommodation market. Since the municipality doesn’t plan to run the motel but tear it down that will throw perhaps a couple of dozen motel rooms off the market. That in turn leaves only one motel, the recently refurbished Blue Haven at the town’s south end. Amherstburg wants to become a sports destination market, especially with its newish double pad Libro sportsplex. But it has been hard pressed to attract a major hotel. Now, with Duffy’s closing, will this finally trigger an investor to come forward and offer such accommodation? – 14/9/16

Canada joins world with emergency sign change

The old red and white EXIT signs in public buildings are becoming a thing of the past. The government of Canada has adopted a new standard depicting a green “running man” pictogram. This signage has long been used in many other countries around the world but is finally being adopted in Canada, after new regulations overseen by the National Research Council took effect in 2010. Spokeswoman Gabrielle Giasson says they’re now part of provincial building codes. Newly constructed buildings in Windsor-Essex are sporting the signs, as are even older buildings that have had signage upgrades. “One of the concerns addressed by replacing the plain legible letters of the word EXIT was related to the globalization and the need for recognition of diversity and potential language barriers,” Giasson said. ” There was also an inconsistency of application of standard for exit signs in buildings, which led to multiple variations of EXIT signs that could have led to potential confusion for building occupants.” The fact Canada has more people speaking different languages also sparked the change. “People can recognize this coming from different counties,” said the NRC’s fire safety team coordinator Philip Rizcallah. – 10/8/16

More agents jumping into local market

No surprise but the hot real estate market had enticed more people to jump in and become realtors. Norm Langlois, president of the Windsor Essex County Association of Realtors, said there are currently 865 relators, compared to 798 “four or five years ago.” Is the red hot (after all these years) market driving the employment numbers? “Of course,” Langlois said. Year to date sales in May were up almost 18 per cent and the average price in May was up 12.75 per cent to $235,011 from $208,441 in May of last year. Langlois said people just want to “get in there and make some money...We’ve got so many people buying and so many houses being sold.” There have also been two new brokerages created this year but both owners were formerly with other firms and “broke away,” Langlois said. Would-be realtors have to pass an exam and obtain a licence from the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). They also must first article with a firm. – 28/6/16

Modernist pop to Sandwich Towne's business street

Motorists cruising along Sandwich Street in west Windsor might be doing a double take when seeing the first modern – some might say ultra modern – building under construction there in some time, and with a decided wow factor. An office building for accountants and lawyers? A new medical clinic? Condos? Nope. It will be the new home of the latest city boutique brewery, the Sandwich Brewing Co. The former 120-year-old nondescript two storey building, arguably an eyesore, has been gutted and redone inside and out but using some of the original Robinet brick and importing more historic brick from Detroit. Among the other architectural touches there’s handcrafted coated copper façade cladding. “The views from inside and out are going to be spectacular,” the company says in a Twitter post. The brewery is immediately east of the Rock Bottom Bar & Grill. Perhaps the building will be a turning point for other new development along Sandwich Street, or re-use of existing buildings with a modern take. As we've seen in Detroit, often all it takes is one new development to set a trend, for the better. Despite the neighbour’s pride in its history surely no one will miss the building the brewery is replacing. As the Twitter feed says, “Sure to be missed by Sandwich Towne…..not.”– 11/4/16

Up and coming firm rebrands itself

One of the area’s up and coming architecture and engineering firms has rebranded itself. What used to be Crozier Baird is now Baird AE (Architecture and Engineering). The firm has been involved in a number of high profile projects including three in Leamington, where the company started in 1982 but which moved its head office to downtown Windsor three years ago. These include the Central 33 office building, Seacliff Heights condo-style apartments, and the design for a new waterfront amphitheatre. In Windsor it has been involved in the conversion of an Erie Street industrial building into modern offices, and the Windsor Club’s new look. “We’re doing a number of high end residential homes,” president Matt Baird said. “We have a bunch of other projects on the go but they’re a little bit too early to mention.” The name change reflects a greater emphasis on the design side. “The architecture group has been growing and growing,” Baird said. -8/1/16

Well known Windsor brokerage gives up its long time house

Unimor Capital Corporation, the long-time mortgage broker and lender, after 30 years in the same location, has moved its offices, in a former house at 1580 Ouellette Ave., to a commercial building in a small plaza further south at 1487 Ouellette, immediately next to Valente Travel. Unimor partner John Battaglia says Unimor sold the house to a Toronto-based buyer who plans to renovate it for a commercial purpose. “We had a building down the street that was too large for us and needed a lot of work,” he said. “We ended up selling it and now we’re leasing.” Unimor’s new landlord is Valente Travel. Unimor moved June 1. Battaglia said the former offices needed renovations and it made more sense to sell. Unimor, a well-known homegrown lender and even something of a household name, was first established in 1974. - 15/9/15

Electronic signatures could lead to fraud - lawyer

As of July 1 a purchaser of real estate doesn’t have to be present to sign a purchase agreement, thanks to changes to Ontario’s Electronic Commerce Act, which now allows electronic signatures. The changes are meant to expedite buying and selling property by eliminating in person meetings with realtors to sign offers and agreements of purchase and sale. But a criminal lawyer who also practices real estate law says the changes could lead to fraud. Blair Drummie told Law Times that the original documents should still be signed in person and subsequent documents then signed electronically. He says realtors should meet with the purchasers and confirm their identities. Conversely, he says, fraudsters could claim a digital signature wasn’t theirs. The July 1 changes, however, only apply to the signings of agreements of purchase and sale, not to closing documents where a lawyer must still be present. But Drummie wonders if that requirement will eventually change too. The province, for its part, says it hasn’t come across any fraud in other areas of economic life where electronic signatures have been legal since 2000. - 29/7/15


Historic heart - transformed

Things have never looked brighter for downtown Amherstburg’s historic heart. In an era where heritage is venerated poor Dalhousie Street has had it tough in recent decades. Few stores have lasted any length of time. There have been vacant lots, abandoned storefronts, even the town’s famous Duffy’s restaurant closed and can find no buyers. But all that might be changing. Salmoni Place condos, the Artisan Grill, the Lord Amherst pub, have injected new contemporary life into the old burg. Next up are a couple of residential complexes - the Echo Riverside Condominiums (see story to left) and the Queen Charlotte Residences - a mixed commercial-residential building (picture above) - to be built further south along the river. An entrepreneur has taken a cue from the highly successful Lord Amherst and is planning to open another pub across the street from the Echo building. All these mark refreshed thinking for one of Ontario’s oldest streets, potentially returning Dalhousie to the bustling thoroughfare it was more than a century ago. - 24/6/15