Windsor homeowner calls on private developers to help revitalize downtown neighbourhoods
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Downtown Windsor resident, Sarah Cipkar, wants change on Church Street.
"When we have vacant buildings in our communities those building go into states of repair and that attracts rodents, crime, squatting, graffiti and that becomes an eyesore for surrounding residents,” Cipkar said.
She’s hoping with help from the City of Windsor and private developers, the area can be revitalized.
"We have some beautiful old homes and I think there's a huge opportunity for us to not only rehab them, flip them for real estate developers to actually protect them and restore their heritage,” Cipkar said.
City officials say it’s up to the homeowner to have the building designated as heritage, and many are hesitant.
"The thing with heritage homes is that they often cost a lot more money to restore. There's a lot more special skills that are required to restore the brick, or wood interior," councillor Rino Bortolin, chair of communications on the city’s Heritage Standing Committee said.
He said the city has taken a number of actions to increase property standards, like the “Vacant Building Strategy.”
"For example, if you have a smashed window, and you have a boarded up piece of plywood on the window after a certain about of time, you have to replace the windows,” Bortolin said. “You do have to keep the building up to a certain standard."
"When the rules aren't followed. The city goes in does the work and charges it to their taxes."
But they are dealing with a growing number of absentee landlords.
"Someone will buy property, forget they own it and allow it to get into neglect. Not pay the taxes,” he said. “That's a five years’ process until we can take ownership of that home."
Bortolin does have hope for the future.
“We are starting to see home properties go way up, vacancy rate drop and rental prices go up. so now it makes sense for those investors to invest in their homes,” he said.