Duffy's Tavern to be converted into civic space: CAO
Published Tuesday, September 13, 2016 10:31AM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, September 13, 2016 5:30PM EDT
The town of Amherstburg is looking to purchase a former landmark – and convert it into a one-of-a-kind civic space.
Council voted to buy Duffy’s Tavern and Motor Inn for $1.675-million at Monday’s meeting.
"Those opportunities to acquire waterfront property don't come along every day,” said town CAO John Miceli. “I would suggest this civic space will probably be the premiere space in the entire region."
Miceli says the new civic space will feature a revamped marina, an amphitheatre, a fishing wharf, boat launch and infrastructure for a fully services festival space.
Mayor Aldo DiCarlo voted in favour of the purchase and redevelopment. “It's another amenity for the town, hopefully it will draw in more residents more tourists and in the long run, save us more money," he remarked after the meeting.
The only dissenting voice around the table was Coun. Diane Pouget. She says she made a promise to voters in 2014 to spend only on needs, not wants. She placed this purchase squarely in the ‘want’ category.
"In the perfect world, I would love to have purchased Duffy's,” Pouget said. “It’s a beautiful piece of property. But in reality, we just can't afford it, and that's the bottom line.”
Councilor Jason Lavigne noted the area has been in steady decline of late and though the timing may not be great, it’s a purchase the city can’t pass up.
Miceli says the town of Amherstburg has brought its debt down from a historic high of $52-million in 2012. He projects it to drop to $39-million by the end of the year.
"We're in a position to pay for the acquisition in cash,” Miceli says. “We will not impact the tax rate, we will not issue debt for the acquisition of the property."
For decades, Duffy’s was a popular restaurant, known for its perch. It closed in 2013.
Miceli says the redevelopment could cost about $7-million dollars. He hopes some government grants, fundraising and sponsorships could offset costs substantially.
"It’s such a unique type of development that I think the sponsorships will come."