Building developers looking for relief from town’s development charges



By Ron Giofu


Developers of an affordable housing project proposed for Pickering Dr. are hopeful the town will give them some relief from development charges.

Steve Newman represented the group aiming to build an affordable housing apartment building at 182 Pickering Dr., a building that will be known as South Pointe Apartments. It would be a 32-unit apartment building for seniors and Newman said the roughly $170,000 in relief from the town would help offset $300,000 in upgrades to the proposed building to make it more energy efficient.

Other municipalities assist in relieving or offsetting development charges and if Amherstburg were to do so, Newman believed it would send a “clear message” that the town is embracing affordable housing.

Newman stated that according to the central housing registry in Windsor, there are 3,504 people on the waiting list for affordable housing in the region with 520 – or 15 per cent – being in Amherstburg. Town council has asked administration to come back with a report on the subject including a development agreement incorporating the request.

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“We’re about to start construction. We’re in the design phase,” said Newman. “We hope to be open for business in a year.”
The proposed energy efficient additions are over and above the Ontario Building Code requirements, he said, as he and his partners are looking to provide a high quality of life for residents.

CAO John Miceli called Newman’s request “commendable,” noting that electricity is a key concern of many, including seniors

“They want to demonstrate to council they are going to offer further savings for the community if we help them offset the costs,” said Miceli.

Miceli called the 520 people in Amherstburg on the affordable housing list “staggering.”

Some councillors questioned how they would satisfy the request, with Councillor Leo Meloche suggesting a letter of credit for the value of the development charges. The letter of credit would be held until all conditions are satisfied, he offered, calling it a “safeguard” for taxpayers. Councillor Rick Fryer said there has to be a development agreement, with Newman replying the proponents would be prepared to give the town whatever assurances they would need.

Newman said the original plan for the site was for an apartment complex but they were originally denied an affordable housing project during an RFP process. An effort to turn the site into a condominium development was shelved with another application made during another round of affordable housing submissions, with the latter application being accepted.

Local realtor purchases former Amherst Hotel

Dan Gemus of Dan Gemus Real Estate Team Ltd. has purchased the former Amherst Hotel on Richmond St. He will be moving his team in there later this year. Gemus said Rosa's is also moving there with 5-6 apartments going upstairs.

Dan Gemus of Dan Gemus Real Estate Team Ltd. has purchased the former Amherst Hotel on Richmond St. He will be moving his team in there later this year. Gemus said Rosa’s is also moving there with 5-6 apartments going upstairs.

By Ron Giofu


A local realtor has purchased the former Amherst Hotel and plans to relocate his staff as well as a local restaurant there.

Dan Gemus told the RTT that he purchased the property, located at 61 Richmond St., and will move his real estate team into the space currently occupied by Audrey Festeryga’s Liberal campaign office. He said he has also made a deal with Rosa’s to bring that restaurant into the space formerly occupied by Kinfolks.

The real estate office and Rosa’s are both currently located on Murray St.

Gemus described the two upper floors as “a big, unfinished space” and plans to convert those into apartments. He said there will be at least five apartments put in, with four of them one-bedroom apartments and the other a bachelor apartment.

A sixth apartment could be added, as Gemus said a former banquet hall space could either be converted into a two-bedroom apartment or be used as more space for Gemus’ real estate team.

Gemus hopes to have the restaurant space open within a month or two and plans to start renovations on the space his real estate office will be moving into sometime after the Oct. 19 federal election. He estimates renovations will last roughly two months.

“Then we’ll get to work on getting quotes for the apartments upstairs,” he said. “I would like to say it would take one year (to complete) but it depends on the quotes we get.”

There will also be brickwork done to the sides and rear of the building.

“Our goal is to improve the exterior look of the building and get it looking its best again,” said Gemus.

Gemus takes possession of the building in roughly one month but he admitted it was a site he wasn’t considering when he started to look for a larger office space. He warmed to the idea of moving to the downtown core of Amherstburg after considering the recent activity, which includes the opening of several new restaurants and two new residential developments planned along nearby Dalhousie St.

“We’re excited to be part of it,” he said.

Purchasing the building is also attractive from the standpoint that it comes with revenue opportunities, as it will have the commercial and residential renters.

The parking lot behind the building will likely remain private, as Gemus said there has to be enough parking for restaurant patrons, real estate staff and apartment renters.

Dan Gemus Real Estate Team Ltd.’s current home at 114 Murray St. will likely be sold, he stated. The team moved there in Dec. 2013.

“We didn’t anticipate outgrowing this space as fast as we did,” said Gemus. “The plan is to sell it as a commercial property.”