WINDSOR, ONT. -- A multi-million-dollar investment in a downtown Windsor building is a sign of confidence in the core’s future.

On April 30, Vern Myslichuk tells CTV News he closed a $3.4-million deal to buy the Security Building at the corner of University Avenue and Pelissier Street. The art deco landmark was completed in 1927.

Plans to transform the 10-storey building include new residential units Myslichuk hopes will turn heads.

“It might be unique, it might be even a little weird,” says Myslichuk. “That’s what I want to do, I just want people to walk in and go, ‘What’s that?’”

The plan to create a new mix of residential and commercial space in the building is a sign of confidence in downtown Windsor’s potential as a hub for new activity in the city.

“I really believe that we’re in the upswing here. We’re in the upswing of taking this area and making it special again,” says Myslichuk. “People are going to want to come here. This is where you’re going to want to be.”

The activity has the chairman of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association excited about the future.

Brian Yeomans points to residential projects like Myslichuk’s, as well as condominium construction by Valente Home Development near Ouellette Avenue and Erie Street, in addition to ‘The Hive on Pelissier’ development as key investments that can lead to new businesses springing up in the downtown – like a much sought after grocery store for the core.

“That gives people the interest,” says Yeomans. “’Wow, look at these people that have money that want to spend money, let’s develop there, let’s open a shop, let’s open a restaurant, let’s do something that those people need.’”

COVID-19 impact

Calls from investors have dropped off since measures tied to the COVID-19 pandemic were put in place mid-March, but according to Mark Lalovich, a commercial realtor with Re/Max Preferred Realty in Windsor, the city has become a destination for investors.

Lalovich says city incentives, steady bank lending and a series of developments in the downtown from the University of Windsor, St. Clair College and other players like American company Quicken Loans make conditions favourable for investors.

“We’ve got clusters going on where properties are getting re-developed and it’s certainly of interest to investors who come [from] out of town,” says Lalovich.

The challenges of the pandemic, including freezes on issuing permits, are not scaring off enthusiastic investors like Myslichuk.

The owner of Better Made Cabinets has previously taken on big projects like the restoration of the Low-Martin House in Walkerville and sees the Security Building in much the same light.

“There’s a lot of people that, you know, just want to be very cautious and I’m not saying you shouldn’t, but you have to be proactive,” says Myslichuk. “No matter what the situation is, you have to work within it.”

Lalovich is similarly optimistic about downtown Windsor’s future.

The realtor is confident the stream of investment and focus on residential development can continue and create a more vibrant core.

“I think all the signs are there, I think we’ve just got to follow through and we’ve got to continue to push on that side of things,” he says.

Myslichuk plans to begin the renovations as soon as possible at 267 Pelissier St. and expects the project to take roughly two years to complete.