Windsor rife for development of community hubs, says architect

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Windsor Star/Derek Spalding

A planned overhaul of the historic Sandwich Towne post office could become a shining example of how to transform an aging and unused public building into a modern community hub, proponents of the project said Wednesday.

The new owners of the heritage site want to open a coffee shop on the main floor by year’s end as they continue work on a bed and breakfast on the second floor. The main goal is to create a meeting space where students and young professionals can meet and share ideas, said co-owner Matthew Zhao.

His proposed concept is the kind of public building revitalization cities across the country are trying to achieve. Even the Ontario government is on-board with its latest policy recommendations that encourage these types of community hubs in municipalities.

Executed properly, the restored Sandwich post office will be a throwback to when such federal buildings were the primary method to connect friends and family, said Jason Grossi, the project’s architect.

“Looking at it as a community hub, that concept fits into the old function of the post office, which was your main outlet to the outside world,” he said. “It was a daily ritual going to get mail and sending letters. So, a café seems to work fairly well that way.”

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