demolition

Duffy’s demolition now underway

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

As pieces of the former Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn fall to the ground, the town is looking ahead to the “Canuck It Up! “ festival and beyond.

Demolition started last Wednesday morning with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo getting the opportunity to take the first chunks out of the motel portion. Jones Group has been busy since then bringing down other parts of the structures.

DiCarlo noted where the town was several years ago with its financial issues but believed the Duffy’s development represents the “change and rebirth” that has been happening since.

With Mayor Aldo DiCarlo at the helm, an excavator prepares to take the first chunks out of the motel  portion of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn last Wednesday.

With Mayor Aldo DiCarlo at the helm, an excavator prepares to take the first chunks out of the motel portion of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn last Wednesday.

“This pretty much sums that up,” said DiCarlo.

The mayor didn’t downplay the impact Duffy’s had in Amherstburg during its existence but said sometimes things need to change.

“I don’t want to diminish what Duffy’s has meant to the town by any means,” he said. “It was a landmark, for sure.”

Duffy’s and its redevelopment plans are one of two major Dalhousie St. projects the town has on its plate – Belle Vue being the other – with DiCarlo stating “sometimes it’s OK to take things down, other things you keep forever.”

A concept plan the town has prepared for the Duffy’s site includes plazas, an amphitheatre, a marina and boat ramp, accessible washrooms, a fishing wharf, boat trailer parking and more.

With Mayor Aldo DiCarlo at the helm, an excavator prepares to take the first chunks out of the motel  portion of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn last Wednesday.

With Mayor Aldo DiCarlo at the helm, an excavator prepares to take the first chunks out of the motel portion of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn last Wednesday.

“We will go to the public for consultation,” said DiCarlo.

That meeting will be at the Libro Centre June 15, with the Duffy’s land being discussed from 5-7 p.m. and Belle Vue from 7-9 p.m.

There is no timeline currently established, DiCarlo added, with the redevelopment of the land depending on money. He said the town is looking at private sponsorships and funding from upper levels of government.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo sizes up the job he did while tearing down part of Duffy’s last Wednesday.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo sizes up the job he did while tearing down part of Duffy’s last Wednesday.

CAO John Miceli said while the demolition contract calls for it to last 11 weeks, he is confident the site will be cleared in time for the “Canuck It Up!” festival Aug. 5-6.

“The whole demolition schedule was set up to accommodate that event,” said Miceli.

Miceli envisioned development opportunities in that area of Amherstburg and said it will be “amazing” to look west from Gore St. and see the area opened up.

Nothing but rubble remained last Thursday afternoon after the motel portion of Duffy’s was torn down.

Nothing but rubble remained last Thursday afternoon after the motel portion of Duffy’s was torn down.

The mayor seemed to be amazed when using the heavy construction equipment, saying he appreciated the Jones Group for letting him use it. Calling himself “a machine junkie,” DiCarlo said using the excavator to knock down part of the building was something he could cross off his bucket list.

“That was a real joy for me,” he said.

Duffy’s demolition to start shortly

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Demolition of the former Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn should start within the next week or two.

Town council approved the tender during its meeting Monday night with the winning bid going to the Jones Group Ltd. The total amount quoted by the Jones Group was just over $280,000 to complete the work, with that dollar figure being over $172,000 less than the next lowest bidder.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

In his report to town council, CAO John Miceli stated that the firm that performed the environmental assessment on the Dalhousie St. property provided a designated substance survey (DSS) of the property.

“The DSS confirmed asbestos, lead, mercury and silica present in different areas of the former tavern building. The abatement requirements were included in the tender specifications for all proponents,” said Miceli in his report.

The town used the firm Golder Associates for the assessment, Miceli stated, adding the town was able to renegotiate the purchase price down to $1.115 million.

If all goes smoothly and according to plan, Miceli said the demolition could start either next week or the week after.

Councillor Jason Lavigne wondered if the Amherstburg Fire Department was finished with the building, as it was being used for training purposes.

“We have pretty much used it for as much as we could,” replied deputy fire chief Lee Tome.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she appreciated the thoroughness of Miceli’s report, noting she was a critic when the report came several months ago regarding the demolition of the former AMA Arena.

Pouget noted the price difference between Jones Group Ltd. and the rest of the bidders.

“It’s such a big, big difference,” she said. “With all of the savings, we’ll be able to fix up the property much quicker than we originally anticipated.”

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Councillor Joan Courtney asked if the town had applied for any grant money for the project, including the redevelopment of the lands. Miceli said there has been one application submitted thus far, and that pertained to the removal of gas tanks from the property.

Courtney also questioned whether there had been any meetings with stakeholders. The CAO said the next steps are to meet with the community and stakeholder groups to discuss the proposals for the property. The town has floated such ideas as an amphitheatre, marina, and food truck parking among other amenities.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Demolition of Duffy’s Tavern & Motor Inn is scheduled to begin either next week or the week after, based on information learned during Monday night’s council meeting.

Miceli added he knows of one party that is interested in sponsoring riverfront development in that area.

Council had been made aware of Miceli’s concerns that the site could further decay and become a target for vandalism. He also stated in his report that demolition could have become more complex if delayed due to the ongoing construction of the neighbouring Queen Charlotte Residences.

Meadows by the Lake torn down

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A landmark roadhouse that dates back to 1923 is no more.

Meadows by the Lake, located on the corner of County Road 50 and County Road 41, has been torn down. Wayne Jahn, who owned the property from 2005-16 with wife Neda, said it was “a sad day” and suspected the demolition was due to issues with the septic system. He recalled being told of issues when they owned the restaurant, something he didn’t quite understand.

“It was a very busy restaurant, a very successful restaurant,” said Jahn.

Jahn, who would only describe the new owner as an Amherstburg resident named Joe, said he believes there will be a new restaurant erected on that site.

“The people of Amherstburg deserve another Meadows,” said Jahn. “I’m positive he will bring back the Meadows.”

Meadows by the Lake was torn down and the rubble is pictured last Wednesday morning.

Meadows by the Lake was torn down and the rubble is pictured last Wednesday morning.

Demolition of the old building was “unfortunate,” he added.

“It’s a shame it had to be torn down so quickly,” said Jahn.

Jahn said during their ownership, the perch was the best sell and that everything was homemade. Wines were from local vineyards, ingredients were sourced locally and they did a lot of charity work.

There were also trying times as well, including a fire in 2007 that caused the restaurant to be closed for six months. Three years ago, a fire caused substantial damage as well. Circumstances that followed with the mortgage provider and insurer led to the building remaining stagnant until it was sold last year.

“There will be another Meadows there,” Jahn firmly believes.

AMA Arena appears to be on borrowed time

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The former AMA Arena may not be around much longer.

The Victoria St. single pad facility, built in 1970, will be the subject of an RFP to get an idea of what the demolition costs will be. CAO John Miceli said administration wants town council to make an informed decision and the RFP results will give them a sense of what it will cost.

Funds have been set aside in the 2016 budget, he said.

“From our perspective, we haven’t identified a use and there is an engineering review that is going to cost at least $40,000,” said Miceli.

Arenas have to go through engineering reviews every five years, he explained. Performing such a study then tearing the arena down would be a waste of money, he added.

There is no water or hydro at the AMA Arena with insurance costs on the building being “minimal,” said the CAO. There is a concern of letting the building further deteriorate and become a liability, he said.

“I just don’t want to be in a litigious situation if someone gets injured or, heaven forbid, if kids get inside,” he said. “We have to have a game plan.”

Staff that had been working at the former arena has been relocated with stored items within being moved.

Staff that had been working at the former arena has been relocated with stored items within being moved.

While there is a possibility someone in the public can come forward and present another use for the building, Miceli said he wants council to have the information in the new year so they can make an informed decision. He anticipates having a report before town council in late January or early February.

The AMA Arena stopped being used as a recreation venue in 2011 after the Libro Centre opened. It was used as the home of the town’s parks department but staff were cleared out of there in mid-2015.

A “few things of salvage value” remain inside the old arena, Miceli added.

Demolition of the former arena does not appear tied to the possibility of putting a new public high school at the Centennial Park site. Miceli acknowledged the town has identified Centennial Park and the Libro Centre as possible new locations for a new, combined General Amherst and Western secondary school.

“Our plan to demolish the arena was way before (talk of) the new school,” said Miceli. “It is a possibility the school board might want Centennial Park.”

Miceli added he has not been formally contacted by the Greater Essex County District School Board regarding the board acquiring Centennial Park or any other site.

“There is nothing official between the school board and the town,” said Miceli.