Windsor committee recommends Farhi's brownfield redevelopment pitch near WFCU Centre
Published Monday, March 18, 2019 9:34PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, March 19, 2019 4:35PM EDT
An application for millions of dollars in brownfield redevelopment tax grants from the City of Windsor for a major east-end development is getting the green light from the city's development committee.
The subject vacant lands at 1600 Lauzon Rd. are owned by Farhi Holdings. The developer plans to spend $59 million to turn the former GM Trim site into a mix 119 residential lots, four townhouse blocks, 230 units within five multiple dwelling-builds, 7.8 acres of commercial land and possibly even a seven-storey hotel.
As part of the brownfield process at this site, more than 31,000 cubic metres of soil needs to be tested for possible contamination from previous industrial uses. Foundation removal from the old demolished Trim and Lear plant would likely cost millions more.
The committee on Monday night unanimously recommended Shmuel Farhi's application for a variety of municipal tax grants.
In essence, the city will freeze property taxes at the previous assessment rate for a period of up to 10 years, even after the land is built-out. For a large development like this, and when combined with provincial programs like the brownfields financial tax incentive program, Farhi stands to save anywhere from $6-10 million.
Councilor Chris Holt says the long-stagnant land would likely stay that way, without the city's cost neutral incentives.
"If we didn't offer these incentives, nobody would do that. They would just build on a farm field outside of the city,” Holt says. “So this is something that we do to reinvigorate, to build up the city of Windsor, as opposed to building it out."
The councillor, who regularly opposes urban sprawl initiatives, says this proposed development is an example of building “complete communities.”
“People who live on the east end deserve complete communities,” he says, noting people look for clusters of amenities when choosing where to live. “Finally building onto the WFCU Centre is incredibly important for its viability.”
Farhi still needs council to approve the Brownfield CIP application, as well as land rezoning from industrial to mixed-use residential and commercial.
Farhi was not present at Monday’s meeting, but Karl Tanner, a representative from Dillon Consulting was in attendance. When pressed about a start date, Tanner’s response was, “If we could, we’d be in the ground by this fall.”
“If the demand is there it will be built as quickly as possible,” Tanner told the committee. “Obviously there is a commitment to get started right away, and maybe that will be with some multi-residential units on McHugh, and working into the low-density residential later on. I think the idea is to service and sell as quickly as possible so we can get the site cleaned up and get it developed.”
The construction is expected to take place in phases. Tanner was unsure when the proposed hotel may fit into those plans.
“I don’t have answers on that, but obviously Mr. Farhi owns a couple of hotels in Windsor. If there’s a market and a demand for it, he will build it immediately,” Tanner says.