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'Vertical forest' high-rise development proposes 544 units in downtown Windsor


An exciting downtown high-rise development at the corner of Goyeau and Elliott Streets is currently in the works, with the principal architect suggesting it could literally change the city’s landscape by building a “vertical forest.”

A so-called “vertical forest” development proposal features two, 21-storey towers with 544 total units. It also boasts dozens of trees and shrubs incorporated into the design that will drape the buildings.

“We’re recreating nature where we’re building our buildings,” says Joseph Passa of Passa Associates Architects, the designer of the project. “Rather than urban sprawl where we are spreading out to get nature, we are doing it vertically, where we can still have the same nature we would have otherwise.”

Passa is designing the project for a group of Toronto-area investors who are “strongly for it and that’s a big step,” he says.

Early estimates peg the cost around $150 million.

So far, pre-submission documents have been filed with the city. Before long, the proposal will go to site-plan control, and if approved, Passa can get rolling on construction documents.

If all the necessary boxes are checked, Passa foresees construction beginning sometime in 2023 with people living at 777 Goyeau St. in the next four years.

“I would love to see that in our city,” says Brian Yeomans, the chair of the downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association. “I can’t even imagine why anybody would say this isn’t a good idea. It’s a great idea!”

Yeomans says the proposal ticks many important boxes, including more housing, infill development and environmental consciousness.

He says it’s part of a wave of developments bringing much-needed housing to the core.

“In the past 30 years I’ve lived here, we have not seen cranes in the sky, building downtown. We’re seeing residential properties going up where it hasn’t in three decades,” Yeomans says.

Passa notes there are vertical forest designs in Europe, Asia and Toronto, but hopes this proposal creates a sustainable template for others to follow suit.

“We look at these projects as lungs of the city, where they can bring in humidity, bring in natural life,” he says. “We need to change our way of thinking and do things differently.”

Passa — who believes strongly in these energy conscious and ‘green-style’ developments, also believes it’s a catalyst project for other essential ingredients like restaurants, shopping and arts and culture that make for a thriving city core.

“We’re going to see a downtown in the next five years that we’ve been striving for 30,” he says. Top Stories

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