Piroli plans $45M residential project for long-vacant site west of downtown

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Windsor Star/Brian Cross



A developer who wants to build a $45-million, 150-unit apartment project for seniors on long-vacant land at Wyandotte Street and Crawford Avenue is hoping to tap into the city’s “wildly successful” incentive plan for the core.

The property at the northeast corner, vacant since 1989, is just outside the boundary set when council last fall approved its community improvement plan, offering big property tax breaks and grants to encourage new residential projects in the downtown. Since then, the downtown has been targeted with $59 million in proposed private development, adding up to 179 new residential units, 163 refurbished hotel rooms and seven new retail developments.

If council approves the boundary expansion to include the Wyandotte/Crawford property and the project moves forward, investment arising from the CIP would total $105 million, said Mayor Drew Dilkens, calling the proposed development by Piroli Development Group “a very positive sign.”

“With a small boundary adjustment, if that helps with a $45-million, 150-unit development, I think that would be a good decision to make,” the mayor said Tuesday.

The boundary adjustment goes to council’s planning, heritage and economic development standing committee next Tuesday. The six-storey project would also require zoning bylaw changes and CIP approvals before construction could begin, probably in 2019.


“It only makes sense to do this,” said committee member and Ward 4 Coun. Chris Holt, arguing that the boundary adjustment really incorporates a single block — the east side of Crawford from Wyandotte to University Avenue — that should have been included from the start. The fact a developer is seeking an expansion speaks to the CIP’s incredible success, he said.

“It’s really turned into a game-changer,” for the downtown, he said. “It looks like that one missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle and I think we’ve found it.”

Piroli president Rob Piroli said that, without the incentive plan, his project probably wouldn’t make sense. “It’s very viable for that area, but it’s a very large development, so it will take some time to fill, which is why the tax abatements are so critical,” he said.

“It would be too costly to carry without the incentives.”

Piroli said the project will follow the pattern the company started in 2014 when it invested $140 million to build two Seacliff Heights seniors apartment buildings and a retirement residence in Leamington.

They’ve been very successful, he said, explaining they’re aimed at retiring baby boomers who want a “worry-free lifestyle” that doesn’t include owning a house. Based on feasibility studies, there’s a pent-up demand for this kind of housing in Windsor. The Windsor project will be aimed at middle-class seniors.

“Bascially, they want to be free and travel and go away in the winter. That’s what this gives them — lock the door and go away for three or four months,” Piroli said.

The units will be like condos, with washers and dryers and individual furnaces and air conditioners in the units, balconies, kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, common rooms, workout facilities and attractive landscaping, he said.

“It’s going to be a comfortable lifestyle,” he said, with rents ranging from $1,100 to $1,600 monthly for one-bedroom, one-bedroom plus den, and two-bedroom units.