Abars may be spared from wrecking ball
Published Monday, May 9, 2016 10:47PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 10, 2016 9:33AM EDT
A piece of Windsor history may be spared the wrecking ball.
The city planning and heritage committee discussed whether to designate the prohibition roadhouse Abars as a heritage property.
It's said the prohibition-era roadhouse, built in 1904, served illegal hooch to Detroit’s high society, the Detroit Tigers and Al Capone.
"Talk to anybody, they all know Abars,” said Councillor Chris Holt after the meeting. “They all know what's gone on in Abars."
The property owner, Dauntless ULC, just completed its lease with the previous operators in November, 2015. Company representative Michael Samhat would not comment on the details of that lease. But he did comment at Windsor’s Planning and Heritage Committee meeting about his company’s desire to demo the building.
“We'd look forward to taking the building down, clearing the site, enhancing the view of the site and securing it,” said Samhat.
Samhat told the committee that Abars is beyond repair. He noted Monday night he’d like to clear the site for "a higher and better commercial use," though he wouldn’t indicate exactly what that could entail.
“I'm being being clear and transparent, we don't have an immediate plan,” he told councilor Irek Kusmierczyk and the rest of the committee. “We know that it's valuable land, we bought it subject to a lease, and that lease is now ended. And now we have an opportunity to take a serious view of that property."
But there's one thing standing in the way. Windsor’s Heritage planner John Calhoun says Abars was placed on the city’s Heritage Registry in 2010 for its historical significance to a by-gone era in Windsor and Detroit.
"Admittedly it is not an architectural jewel,” Calhoun said. “But that building is the place where these events occurred, these people met, and that building, not the vacant land that it's on, is the history of the place."
Ward 4 councillor Chris Holt made the motion to recommend heritage designation for Abars – which would effectively stop anyone from demolishing the building.
"If there's one thing that Windsor is known for, besides automotive, it's our prohibition history,” Holt said. “We have to preserve that, we have to preserve those linkages to the past.
"Once we demo a building there's no going back to that."
A notice of intention to designate Abarswill be issued to the landowners.Tonight's recommendation at committee will then go before council in about a month.
If council grants heritage designation, the decision can be appealed to the provincial Conservation Review Board.