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East end condo development gets rezoning nod from Windsor committee

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A committee of Windsor council has recommended the rezoning of lands required for a 291-unit condominium development planned for east Windsor.

“Gateway Gardens” is a development planned by Alta Nota Custom Homes and if approved by council, will consist of three six-to-seven storey condo buildings at the corner of Lauzon Road and McHugh Street in east Windsor.

The land sits adjacent to a recent housing development by Farhi Holdings at the former GM Trim plant, next to the WFCU Centre. The land was previously zoned for industrial use and requires residential zoning from council in order to proceed.

Developer Mariusz Buchcic says his previous developments consist mainly of single-family homes, but he’s moving into the multi-unit construction space because that’s where demand exists.

“I see the market changing. We have started some smaller projects, not quite as large as this one, but it seems like the market is moving in that direction,” said Buchcic, who owns the land and is eager to develop.

The condo buildings would feature a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom suites.

Buchcic also said he’d like to see the project incorporate affordable units.

“We are definitely looking at the affordable side,” he said after Monday’s meeting. “We haven't looked at that yet, but we will definitely look deeper into that and we would definitely be leaning into that, if it's possible,” he said.

Vacant land at the corner of McHugh Street and Lauzon Road on Feb. 6, 2024, which will be developed into condo buildings with Windsor City Council’s blessing. (Rich Garton/CTV News Windsor)Buchcic wants to get shovels in the ground once he gets council approval, but notes the market conditions need to be right.

“The interest rate is basically what we're waiting for to come down and as soon as we get the phone calls from the buyers, then we'll start building,” he said.

The Development and Heritage Standing Committee unanimously supported the rezoning application Monday.

“Another 291 units as we really push for our housing goals,” said committee chair, Jim Morrison, quite emphatically. “And I certainly hope things move quickly through the planning process and into the building department as soon as possible.”

Ward 9 Coun. Kieran McKenzie commented that it’s pretty rare for a developer to suggest they want to see affordable units as part of their build, especially without any incentives on the table.

“Full credit, first of all, to that developer for being willing to state that intention publicly,” Coun. McKenzie said.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has an entire suite of programs to help incentivize developers to build affordable units, through the national housing strategy.

But Coun. McKenzie believes the city could play a more active role, through the well-established community improvement plan (CIP).

“Perhaps now, we start to pivot and look at other areas. Housing would be another good example, affordable housing, to expand the scope of the CIP,” he said.

More than 6,000 people are currently on Windsor’s affordable housing registry waiting for a place they can afford.

“That housing need exceeds the investments that are happening in the community to address the challenges that we have,” he said. “We know this.”

McKenzie believes the city should explore partnerships in the not-for-profit sector and consider policy tools and city incentives to get developers to include affordable units into their builds.

He hints these discussions are, and will continue to happen at the city level.

“Where is the financial incentive to be able to proceed in that way?” He asks. “And I think there could potentially be a way forward. That definitely warrants greater exploration and greater discussion.”

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