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Fairmount Properties suing City of Windsor over quashing of 'Global Village' project

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Fairmount Properties is pursuing legal action against the City of Windsor as a "last resort" after council unanimously voted to quash plans for a multi-million dollar, mixed-use development at the former Grace Hospital site, according to legal counsel retained by the developer.

"They've invested an incredible amount of time, energy and money into the project and were frankly blindsided when after a secret closed door meeting all of a sudden, the plug was pulled on this project," said Gardiner Roberts LLP senior partner Gavin Tighe.

Tighe is referring to a decision made by Windsor city councillors during an in-camera meeting on Dec. 1, 2023.

According to the city, council's decision to pull back on selling the land at the corner of University Avenue West and Crawford Avenue to Fairmount Properties was a unanimous one.

Documents filed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice show Fairmount Properties planned to build a mixed-use development which included 400 student housing units and a medical office building along with space for new restaurants, retail and parking.

The project was valued at $140 million.

Following council's decision to axe the Fairmount development, Mayor Drew Dilkens told CTV News Windsor the project "wasn't moving at the speed that we hoped it would be moving at this point."

In their court filing, Fairmount Properties described Dilkens' comments as a "false and defamatory media narrative."

"Fairmont was in complete compliance with the schedule that the city itself had set forth," said Tighe, who added the city had an "exclusive arrangement" with the city.

"Our clients...understood that they were the exclusive partner in this and accordingly had invested in that way," he said.

The city and company signed a memorandum of understanding in 2020.

Fairmount Properties alleges council terminated the agreement "in bad faith," and said the exact reasoning behind the city's decision to axe the project remain undisclosed.

As part of the company's notice of application, the company is ordering a quashing of the in-camera resolutions by council.

Speaking with AM800 Tuesday morning, Dilkens said the city will defend its position vigorously.

"They have decided to proceed in this particular manner. That is up to them," said Dilkens. "We think we are on solid ground. We think there's zero risk to the residents of the City of Windsor."

Dilkens added the city is moving forward with issuing its next expression of interest for the former Grace Hospital site "very soon."

"We said, ‘Let's not delay. Let's do the rezoning and the record of site condition ourselves so that when we're done the expression of interest process, those two key components are already completed which will help construction begin faster,’" the mayor added.

According to Tighe, Fairmount Properties' main goal is to "put the train back on the tracks" after efforts to "initiate a dialogue" with the city fell through.

"This is not some game to litigate. Our clients are in the business of developing and building great public spaces and student homes. They're not in the business of litigating," said Tighe.

"This is a last resort,” he added. “Unfortunately, this is why the courts are here."

None of the accusations have been tested in court.

 

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