Fate of Abars up for debate at city hall
The fate of historic Abars on the River will very likely be determined tonight at city hall.
Council will consider an application to demolish the prohibition-era roadhouse, to make way for future development.
But it won't happen without opposition.
At the committee level, the idea of designating Abars as a heritage site was the popular choice.
The pressure didn't stop there, since then an online campaign was launched to save the century-old watering hole.
But council doesn't have to follow the recommendation.
“I think the Abars building is of little heritage value worth saving," says mayor Drew Dilkens.
According to a city report, Abars was built in 1904 and gained prominence for serving illegal hooch to prominent figures like Al Capone, during the prohibition era.
In 2010, it was placed on the city's heritage register for its historical significance to a by-gone era in Windsor and Detroit.
But property owner Dauntless ULC, a subsidiary of the bridge company, wants it down with future plans for a higher and better use.
“We don't have an immediate plan,” said Michael Samhat. “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.”
No word yet on what that would look like.
“We're concerned about what they have planned for the site,” says Darren Thorne. “Cause a vacant lot with a plaque is not acceptable for the area or the community."
Thorne and friend Derek Farrugia launched an online campaign to save Abars from the wrecking ball as the last prohibition-era roadhouse in Windsor.
They say 1,000 emails have been sent to the city to give Abars heritage status.
“It is an eyesore, and some people don’t think it’s worth saving, but we're thinking down the road,” says Farrugia. “We want the city to look closely before pulling the plug."
Councillor Chris Holt was the lone councillor on the planning and heritage committee who voted to save the building.
Last month, Holt said “once we demo a building, there's no going back on that.”