U-Haul to overhaul abandoned Wickes bumper plant

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Windsor Star/Trevor Wilhelm

The U-Haul Company has bought an abandoned Windsor manufacturing plant that sat empty for decades to turn into a massive rental and storage facility.

U-Haul closed the deal on the former Wickes bumper plant at 9082 Tecumseh Rd. E on Sept. 30. The company says it will overhaul the entire 11-acre site, which has been a source of blight for 25 years.

“This has been an eyesore for years, but when we are finished, it will be amazing,” said David Anstett, the company’s Western Ontario president. “We are rebuilding a spot where so many people worked in the past, and I am proud of this growing tie with the community.”

The factory shut down in 1990 and has sat empty ever since. The City of Windsor seized the property in 2009 for $3 million in owed back taxes.

In June 2014, someone torched the place and caused $1 million in damage

U-Haul said it is receiving grant money from the city to go toward the cleanup of the property. In addition to being neglected for years, it was the site of chemical contamination during its life as a car parts plant.

The company didn’t reveal what it paid for the property or the estimated cost of cleanup.

The site is now called U-Haul Moving & Storage of Forest Glade. It currently offers truck and trailer rentals as well as moving supplies. But over the next year, the company will renovate the 128,240-square-foot building to add 1,000 indoor storage units, drive-up storage units, a U-Box portable moving and self-storage container warehouse, a hitch bay and other services.

U-Haul said its acquisition of the property is one of the company’s corporate sustainability initiatives. When it’s feasible, the company will reuse existing buildings to reduce the amount of energy and resources required for new construction and help cities reduce their inventories of unused buildings.

“This investment is great news for the city,” said Mayor Drew Dilkens.

“U-Haul is a household name and well respected in the industry, and I want to thank them for their confidence in the Windsor market. In addition, the cleanup and visual improvements to the site is welcomed news to this area of the city.”