U-Haul ready to redevelop old Windsor Bumper plant site

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

CBC News

A city committee recommends council approve a plan that will see U-Haul clean up a derelict industrial property in Windsor's east end.

The former Wickes Manufacturing facility — also known as the site of the old Windsor Bumper plant — on Tecumseh Road E. had, until recently, been vacant for years and the city has been trying to figure out what to do with it.

The property is a so-called brownfield site, which means it may be contaminated as a result of its prior use.

The longtime chrome-plating plant was acquired by the City of Windsor in lieu of back taxes in 2009.

The City had trouble selling the building due to potential contaminants including chromium, copper and nickel that were left behind when the factory closed in 1990.

On Monday night, the city's planning, heritage and economic development standing committee recommended a plan for U-Haul to receive a combination of grants and tax breaks, worth an estimated $1.67 million, as it redevelops the 11-acre property.

The plan will need the approval of city council to become a reality.

The AMERCO Real Estate Company, the real estate division of U-Haul, purchased the property in September, through a company it created called 9082 Tecumseh (Canada) Ltd.

U-Haul is already renting trucks there now. It intends to establish a storage facility there, too.

David Anstett, the marketing company president of U-Haul in Western Ontario, said the company likes the location.

"There's a need for our business in that area and it was just perfect," he told reporters on Monday night.

'It's been an eyesore'

Coun. Bill Marra, who chairs the committee, said the proposed deal is a winning one for Windsor.

"This is an incredibly important project for so many different reasons," said Marra, after the meeting ended on Monday night.

"First of all, it's been a longstanding vacant piece of property, 11 acres with some significant contamination issues. It's been an eyesore," he added.

"There was a huge fire that created a lot of damage and concern quite some time ago."

An intentionally set fire there caused $1 million in damage in the summer of 2014.

Marra said the value of the property will increase with time as it is improved. The taxes will increase, too, but the U-Haul won't be paying that tax for a while.

"Any tax increase that would happen, they don't have to pay for a period of 10 years and that's where these dollars truly add up," said Marra.

The plan will go before council next month. Marra told CBC News that he expects it will have a positive reception at council.

Anstett said the company expects to invest about $5.8 million in the property over a six-year period.

That investment will unfold in three phases, Anstett said.

"We're glad the city's going to support us in our funding and that's going to make things more viable for us in making it work," Anstett said. "Because without that funding, we wouldn't be able to make it work."