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Brownfield applications rolling in for Windsor, Ontario, as land prices spike

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Downtown, Windsor, Ontario
Downtown Windsor, Ontario. By Jc8025 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Freezing taxes for a decade, paying for feasibility and environmental studies, and chipping in for soil and groundwater testing were a few of the incentives created under the City of Windsor, Ontario’s Brownfield Redevelopment Community Improvement Plan nearly a decade ago. But there were only a few bites at the time.

According to the latest housing market outlook report by REMAX Realty, Windsor-Essex is being predicted to lead Canada in 2018 with the highest percentage increase in housing prices. Now that the border city’s land prices are spiking and residential vacancy rates are dropping, the timing is just right to encourage redevelopment of 226 hectares of potentially contaminated, former industrial properties in Windsor. Eighty-six percent of the requests to Windsor’s brownfield program have occurred in the last two years, despite the program being active since 2010.

“The redevelopment of these sites also remove the negative stigma often associated with brownfield properties, which increases the value of the subject property and adjacent properties,” states a report from the City’s Planning, Heritage & Economic Development Standing Committee.

ln 2009 Windsor’s planning department identified 137 brownfìeld properties.

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One of the latest applicants under Windsor’s brownfields program relates to the Burroughs Adding Machine Factory built in 1920. Photo Credit: National Museum of American History.
One of the latest applicants under Windsor’s brownfields program relates to the Burroughs Adding Machine Factory built in 1920. Photo Credit: National Museum of American History.

One of the latest applicants under the brownfields program relates to the property of the Burroughs Adding Machine Factory. It was built in 1920 and used by the Detroit-based Burroughs until 1970. Since that time, it has been through multiple owners involved in nickel-chrome plating work. The property was purchased by Strathan Corporation in 2008 and has sat vacant ever since, according to a 2018 report from the City’s Planning, Heritage & Economic Development Standing Committee. 

Now, the Strathan Corporation is looking to move the project forward by applying under the City’s brownfield program to perform studies on the property. The various studies would cost about $85,000. Regarding one feasibility study grant, the committee report states that “The applicant has indicated the study will focus on market research, economic feasibility, and assessing the capacity of the site to accommodate cultural, tourist, and educational activities.”

Another recent brownfield program request comes from 9082 TECUMSEH (CANADA) LTD., a company owned by AMERCO Real Estate Company, the parent company of U-Haul. The property had been the site of Windsor’s Wickes Manufacturing facility that operated as a heavy metal stamping and electroplating plant from about 1953 to the early 1990s, according to a committee report. TECUMSEH bought the property in 2015 as a truck storage facility for U-Haul.

Now, AMERCO is looking to build a new truck storage facility on the site and wants to take advantage of the city’s brownfield program to undertake a series of studies on the property, including a Phase ll Environmental Site Assessment, and a Risk Assessment Study. The total value of the grants available to AMERCO under the application is more than $1.6 million.

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