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

LaSalle condo project fills hole in donut June 2 2021

The Town of LaSalle’s planning committee has given the green light to a rezoning change for a new condo development at the northwest corner of Sandwich West Pkwy and Mary Drive on a 1.8 hectare site. The area is now a vacant field. Two new five story buildings accommodating 146 residential units will be known as The Crossings at Heritage. The project, across from Holy Cross elementary school and Seasons Royal Oak Village., is planned by The D’Amore Group and Petretta Construction. The planning committee last week gave the nod to two variations: one, a required rear yard depth from 14.9 metres to 8.5 metres and the second, a required minimum lot area from 167 square metres per dwelling unit to 120.7 square metres. LaSalle’s planning supervisor Allen Burgess said there were only two citizen inquires but both concerns have been satisfied. Coun. Sue Desjarlais asked if any units were accessible. Developer David Petretta said at least two units per floor will be accessible “and (for) every style of suite.” The County of Essex still has to sign off on the project. A sales video shows the project surrounded by a tranquil community with walking trails, deer grazing and “where you may find more pedestrians than vehicles” along with close access to shopping. An artist rendering shows a rectangular building (photo above only shows a portion) with a colour scheme of light and dark grays, taupes and browns, along with various geometric facade accents. Prices start at $299,900 per unit and the broker is Century 21.

Image: D'Amore Group and Petretta

Cabana and Dougall retail plaza could see new second floor residential units May 10 2021

The decades old but still contemporary looking commercial plaza at Cabana and Dougall in Windsor’s south end could see the second floor converted to residential apartments. The Tim Hortons anchored plaza with the part green angled roof on the southeast corner has had several commercial units vacant for over a decade. And owner Marco Savoni thinks the better use could be apartments. He received city approval earlier this year for the “mixed use” designation. But while the first floor has long had a bustling set of 19 retail outlets the second floor had drawn little tenant interest. “It was always zoned commercial and it’s been a real challenge to get it leased,” Savoni said. “And I’ve owned it for a year and I’ve had approximately three or four calls over the last year of leasing inquiries for second floor office space.” The plan is to convert to 16 dwelling units. Interestingly, while the market for the apartments could be anyone there had been strong interest shown by retail owners on the first floor. “This would afford them to save time and money when operating their businesses,” a city report says. “Urban living, it would be more economical for anybody in the area,” Savoni said. Converting to residential would “allow for more parking,” the city says, because commercial tenants' clients naturally take up more parking spaces. The planned use is intact; there would be no plaza additions. The city applauds this because it meets with its desire for urban “intensification.” The south Windsor location is also served by transit and “active transportation” such as cycling and walking. Savoni said all that remains is obtaining a cost analysis to determine the project’s feasibility. But he’s optimistic. “It’s going to happen in the future either with myself or another developer – at some point someone’s going to do it."

Photo: Google Streetview

Canada Building’s residential rebirth will require slight heritage alterations April 16 2021

The Canada Building in downtown Windsor is such an historic edifice that the owner wants to begin refurbishing some of its heritage aspects but needs the city’s approval first. The 12-storey building near the tunnel was built in 1930 and was once the city’s highest. The refurbishment is part of much larger plans to convert 10 floors to 80 residential units. It’s the kind of change that is also taking place at the decades-old Security Building, only blocks away at University and Pelissier, as developers rethink former office builds as residential towers. The first two floors would remain for commercial purposes. The art deco building was at one time to The Windsor Star’s predecessor The Border Cities Star. The heritage interiors include a marble lobby on the first and second floors and brass trim on windows, doors, elevators and stair railings, “crested” elevator doors and the lobby’s ornate ceiling trim painted in gold. Owners of heritage designated properties need municipal approval to “alter” the property. The applicant is Rhys Trenhaile of The VanGuard Team at Manor Realty. The owner is an Ontario numbered company out of Burlington. The major conversion in the building will require “some minor interior modifications,” the proponent says. Most of the changes are indeed minor. These include cleaning and polishing brass elements, restoring the brass Canada Post mailbox in the front lobby and cleaning and repairs to the marble lobby to enhance it. The biggest alteration will be first floor ceiling removal for a new sprinkler system. That will be repaired with colour, tone and texture to replicate the original. Some exterior work is also required. For example, the Ouellette Ave. exterior canopy needs major repairs as it “has been neglected for years and has deteriorated considerably,” a report states. The intent, however, would be to “to restore and preserve” the original design.

Image: University of Windsor

Rock Developments sways into luxury tower and townhome development March 25 2021

Up to now Rocco Tullio and his Rock Developments have been associated with major commercial developments such as Windsor Commons and Union Square on Division Rd. south of Devonshire Mall. Now Tullio is branching out with a major residential complex on the former Tecumseh Golf Course on Manning Rd. north of Tecumseh Road with One650 Manning, a condominium tower and associated luxury townhomes. No cost figure has been put on the project but the expected 152-unit building has an impressive design that will stand out not just in Lakeshore, from where Tullio hails and his offices are located, but in the region generally. According to Rock vice president Josh Way it’s in part his boss’s giving back. “He wanted to build something that would be a legacy and something that he would be able to provide back to the community,” Way said. As well, there is a dramatic need for new housing not just in Lakeshore and adjacent Tecumseh but the region as a whole. “Windsor has a lot of interest (in housing) but not a lot of product to be sold,” he said. “The prices are skyrocketing, it’s hard for people to find homes.” The development features a fitness room, spacious party rooms and an outdoor gathering area. A waterfront living theme features private boat slips. Two and three bedroom suites are bright and open ranging from 1,100 sq. ft. and higher. According to the website’s description suites will be “filled with natural light featuring expansive windows, sweeping terraces, private balconies and garden patios overlooking the water.” The location also will fit well with the large and burgeoning commercial - mainly shopping - developments along the Manning Rd.-Tecumseh Rd. east side axis. Deerbrook’s Anthony Smith is the property’s realtor. Partners include ZEDD Architecture of London, Leamington’s Milavo Design (owner Tania Iacobelli) and sales and leasing tech firm Imerza of Sarasota, Fla. The L-shaped tower has a striking contemporary work accented by white angled geometric lines and overhang roof elements. This is contrasted by brown brick and lots of glass. The adjoining 10 townhomes have overwhelming brownish brick with ample garage space a modern squarish, almost Bauhaus, look. No unit prices points are yet available.

Essex golf club proposes new golf driving range right across the street March 9 2021

The venerable Essex Golf & Country Club wants to build a driving range right across from its long-established golf course on LaSalle’s Matchette Road. The club, considered the most prestigious golf club in the area, has played host to many high-profile tournaments over the decades. Club management will be going before town council March 23 for a rezoning of the 7.5 hectares of land on the east side of Matchette north of Golfview Dr. The address is actually “known as 7455 Malden Rd.,” says the town. “This is currently part of a large block of land (which) has a Malden address,” town development director Larry Silani said. “However, the intent is for the applicant to acquire the westerly portion of this block with its access and frontage becoming Matchette Road.” A map shows the land extends as far east as Malden Road, hence the address name. could not get a confirmation on the exact location but presumes it's the cleared land in the photo above, which is directly across Matchette from the golf club's main entrance. That side of the street also has several neighbouring residential homes. The virtual town council meeting can be viewed live on LaSalle’s YouTube channel. The golf club, which has been on Matchette since 1929 (but dates from 1902) and was designed by famed golf course architect Donald Ross, seeks a rezoning from the land’s current agricultural zone to a site-specific recreational use. This would allow a new driving range and “accessory uses” according to a public notice. Residents can register up to noon March 23, the day of the meeting, to make comments at the meeting or to submit written comments about the rezoning request. Neither Mark Skipper, the lawyer acting on behalf of the golf club, nor club president Lynda Heij, responded to requests for comment.

Windsor property taxes lower in most categories than the provincial average February 11 2021

How do Windsor’s property taxes stack up against other Ontario municipalities? According to city budget papers the city’s taxes rank below the provincial average in nine out of 12 classes, according to BMA Management Study. By comparison in 2004 only two property classes ranked below provincial. For example, taxes are below average for typical residential properties but above for “high value” homes. That’s because the city is older and its housing stock is comprised of generally smaller houses. But larger homes are “outliers” in assessment value to a greater extent than in newer municipalities which have more larger homes and therefore the “split” in total taxes among individual properties “is more homogeneous.” Meanwhile multi-residential taxes for both walk-up and mid to high-rise apartments are below the provincial average. Commercial properties “generally rank well below average” except for motels which are slightly above. Property taxes for industrial sites “now rank well below” average. To what is the decline in taxes in recent years attributed? Says the report, it’s a “direct result of the fiscally responsible budgets and various tax policy decisions” brought in by the city over a number of years. Here are some individual class comparisons: Residential - Detached Bungalow (3-bedroom, single story with 1.5 bathrooms and 1 car garage): Windsor - $3,363, low - $3,212, high-$6,594, average-$4,201. Residential - Senior Executive (detached 2 story, 4-5 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2-car garage with approx. 3,000 sq. ft. living space): Windsor - $7357, low - $4950, high - $13,626, average - $7,154. Commercial – Neighbourhood Shopping (store of 4,000-10,000 sq. ft.): Windsor - $3.30, low - $3.30, high - $6.47, average - $4.93. Commercial – Motels (per suite): Windsor - $1,931, low - $1,029, high - $2,617, average - $1,538. Large Industrial (greater than 125,000 sq. ft. based on per sq. ft. floor area): Windsor - $1.23, low - .57, high - $2.85, average - $1.34. Industrial Vacant Land (taxes per acre): Windsor - $3,282, low - $851, high - $23,195, average - $9,791.

The Orchards will bring another high end neighbourhood to South Windsor January 20 2021

A higher end neighborhood should be ready for move-in by the end of the year after the city approved development of The Orchards subdivision. The little known former open land lies just east of Howard Avenue south of Division Rd. and is obscured mostly by single family homes along Howard. Yet two longtime local developers – Albano Holdings (Imperial Developments) and J. Rauti Custom Homes - have combined to build the 86 home upscale development. Homes will be similar to existing Rauti homes on nearby Maguire St. (pictured). The land had long been owned by the two families pieced together over the decades and had been in a “holding” zone by the city expressly for residential use. “Now is just a great time to put it together, the market’s strong, Windsor’s expanding, the need is there,” Ric Albano said. He said the developers definitely did not want to build a more conventional neighbourhood; as Albano put it - “bunch everybody up in multi-units and town homes.” Instead, the development is a nod to other south Windsor upscale areas like Southwood Lakes and even almost century old larger homes west of Howard. “It maintains the integrity of the two establishment neighbourhoods,” Albano said. One noticeable road change will be the extension of Holborn St. westward through to Howard Ave. bisecting the division. But Albano dismissed concerns this would be used as a pass through, as most general traffic uses Maguire to the north. The street will be used primarily by local traffic. The city and developers will cost share the extension. Albano has a background in mainly industrial and commercial construction, The family built the Riverview Steel plant on EC Row and the innovative Club Lofts condos – a converted distillery warehouse – in Walkerville. Rauti brings an extensive background in home development including Tuscany Oaks, Huron Estates, Lakeside Estates and currently the Lakeshore New Centre.

Photo: The Orchards

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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

Remake for former colorful Bruce Avenue NW corner property

The owners of a funky property at 391 Bruce Ave. got a zoning bylaw amendment for two new dwelling units, one within the former boxy commercial space and the other within the main house. Up to now there has been a single residence and the vacant commercial box. But two additional parking spaces will have to be added, entered from the rear alley. The city’s development committee approved the proposal this month. The one storey square building over the years has sported zany appearances including colorful walls of abstract art. But recently it has maintained a solid gray look. The owners live in Oakville. – 7/26/21

Photo: Google Street View

Polish community puts apt. complex on hold

Windsor’s Polish community has received an extension to build an eight-unit apartment building next door to the Polish community hall on Langlois Ave. The reason? Covid-19. The community in 2019 had planned the building. Former structures were demolished on the lots just north of Ottawa St. in preparation to build. But Margaret Holec of the Polish Club Windsor told the City of Windsor the pandemic has meant the club can’t raise money to construct the building. “No revenue” has come from the bar, banquet hall and restaurant, and the cost of building materials “has increased tremendously,” she said. The club hopes construction can commence in two year’s time. The city directed the site to be landscaped in the interval. – 7/5/21

Photo: Google Steetview

Former Amherstburg youth centre sold

A longtime Catholic Church youth centre, located beside St. John the Baptist church in Amherstburg, has been sold by the Diocese of London to Amherstburg’s Jones Realty part of the Jones Group, a demolition and heavy equipment rental business. The school sold for $1.55 million. A Jones representative didn’t respond to requests for comment. But RC diocese spokesman Matthew Clarke said the building, constructed in 1911, was originally St. Anthony Roman Catholic School. It closed in 1972 and until last year was a youth centre under names House of Shalom and most recently The House Youth Centre. Last year the centre moved to the new Amherstburg Community Hub, which hosts numerous community organizations, a few blocks away on Richmond St. at the former St. Bernard school. “The Church no longer had a need for the property, so we decided to sell it,” Clarke said. “We do not know the plans of the new owner.” – 6/17/21

No incentives for downtown secondary units - for now

The City of Windsor won’t provide financial incentives to create secondary dwelling units within its Downtown Community Improvement Plan (CIP), a general incentive program to help spark development. City staff say there are “limited finds” available and “challenges” to administer such a program. Since 2018 the city has allowed such units like basement apartments and in-law flats. One problem is determining costs to install a second unit and some units would need more extensive work than others. Also, obtaining documentation from smaller owners compared to a professional builder can be “harder to obtain,” says a staff report. There also have been “few inquiries” from the public about incentives. A general CIP five-year review next year will re-examine secondary unit grants. – 5/27/21

Image: City of Windsor

The city's alleys can be named - at a cost

Naming of alleys has become fashionable in certain cities and the same could take place in Windsor – at a cost. In response to a question last year from councillor Chris Holt a report to the city’s development and heritage committee says naming alleys for, say, commemorative purposes, or as a way to attract people to a business district, costs more than simply putting up a sign. “By giving an alley or laneway a name, a sense of identity is created amongst the local community and perhaps an entire city,” the report says. Cities with successfully named alleys rely on partnerships between the city, businesses and residents. “If the interest exists to create and operate a successful alley at an agreed upon level of service then there are going to be costs incurred,” it says. Besides signs, there is maintenance, decorative features like plants, even benches and bike racks. Emergency response is also a consideration. Most city alleys “do not provide adequate access” to fire services so locations would have to be cross-referenced to a street address. – 5/4/21

Most house sales in $420 - $550K range

Of 19 price categories the ones about middle and above the have seen the most house sales in Windsor-Essex so far this year. The local Association of Realtors reports that houses priced $420,000 - $549,999 – the 9th highest of 18 price categories - had the most sales at 263. The category immediately above that – $550,000 to $699,999 – saw the next highest sales, 170, to the end of March. The third highest sales occurred in the $360,000 - $419,999 range with 145 sales. The highest priced category - $1.4 million and above, had three sales. And the lowest category - less than $60,000 - has just two sales. The year to date (as of end of March) average sale price was up 37.6 per cent. So, the average sale of $371,631 a year ago March had increased to $511,356. But the average price for March itself soared 49.1 per cent to $531,805 from $355,945. In March individual sales climbed to 700 from 504 in March 2020, the biggest jump per month so far this year as spring, and the traditional higher buying season for homes, arrived. Altogether sales year to date increased to 1645 from 1258 last year, up 30.7 per cent. – 4/16/21

Torontonian saw Detroit's potential

Andreas Apostolopoulos, a quixote Canadian real estate developer who saw value in Detroit when others didn’t, has died. Apostolopoulos, 69, of Toronto, first came on the Detroit scene in 2009 with his purchase of the shuttered Pontiac Silverdome. According to The Wall Street Journal he bid on the 82,000 domed stadium sight unseen, for the bargain basement price of $583,000. When built mid-1970s it cost $55 million. Apostolopoulos’s company, still run by his sons, is called Triple Group. After attempting to draw big truck shows and boxing to the cavernous stadium a winter storm saw the roof cave in. Triple Group demolished the stadium three years ago and Inc. is redeveloping the site. After visiting Detroit Apostolopoulos took a shine to the city and saw its post-industrial potential. He bought Detroit’s 1920as era iconic Penobscot Building (photo) downtown for $5 per sq. ft. compared to an average $200 per sq. ft. for office spaces nationwide in 2012. “Detroit’s going to be coming up again,” he said then. “I think the city is already bankrupt. I don’t think it could get any worse than it is.” – 3/18/21

Photo: Slice

New Jackson Park greenhouse could also feature 'winter garden' with aviary

A new city greenhouse to be constructed in Jackson Park and not at the former site in Lanspeary Park, could include a major expansion with a learning centre for community and school groups. There are two options – a recommended tender of $5.3 million to contractor Matassa Inc. This would include a 22,000 sq. ft. operational greenhouse, 3,200 sq. ft. admin building, 3,800 sq. ft. storage building, 1,600 sq. ft. utility building and other site works. There’s also an option for a 3,500 sq. ft. multipurpose building also dubbed a “winter garden.” It would cost an additional $234,000 and is described as “s warm, naturally lit indoor area, such as a conservatory/atrium or an aviary.” The city report said it could also provide “community programming as a way of connecting people of all ages in a hands on environment.” – 2/17/21

Image: Glos Associates

Little Italy corner commercial seeks some wider uses

A commercial building at 400 Erie St E. in Little Italy has asked for rezoning to attract new types of tenants such as retail, fitness centre and a light repair shop. The 1940 era building had been the recent home of City Cyclery - there for two years - but which has now moved. The front is a two-storey office structure and the remainder is divided into eight units mainly small office spaces and warehousing. The building has a narrow Erie St. frontage and extends considerably back along Mercer St. to Brodhead St. Lessor is renting the building. The company website indicates five of nine units are currently available. Lessor is family owned and the president is Christine Davison, also president of First Stop Services, a document storage, shredding, and self-storage business, located a block west on Erie. Lessor also owns several other city properties. City staff have recommended rezoning approval. – 1/27/21

Photo: Google Streetview