Landmark downtown building sold, new owner looking at conversion to residential
Thursday, May 7, 2020
The Windsor Star/Dave Battagello
Vern Myslichuk provided the community a welcomed blessing several years ago when he undertook a massive renovation effort to save and restore the crumbling former Paul Martin residence in the heart of Walkerville.
Now the longtime owner of BetterMade Cabinets is poised to embark on potentially an even more impressive renovation project after finalizing his purchase on May 1 of the prominent art deco Security Building in the heart of downtown for $3.4 million.
“This one came to light and I wanted to help bring some positivity back to downtown Windsor,” Myslichuk said. “There are several properties around there doing things to improve. We are going to bring this one back to life a little bit and restore its history.”
Located at 267 Pelissier Street on the corner of University Avenue West, the 10-storey building was constructed in 1927 and was among the tallest in southwestern Ontario at that time.
The transaction is the first time the landmark property has changed hands since 1993. Myslichuk’s plans are to convert much of the building into residential units.
“We already have some drawings put together,” he said. “We are going to start with the top floors and work our way down a couple of floors at a time. It’s a two-year project.
“I’m not going to convert the entire building to residential, there will still be some commercial in there, but when we are done it’s going to be spectacular.”
Myslichuk suggested people can look at his proven work on restoration of the former Paul Martin house and expect the same kind of quality workmanship at the Security Building — including maintaining the many historic features and character within its interior.
“I’ve been in the industry for 30 years and know a lot of people in the trades I can lean on,” he said. “We want things to stand out. There is not going to be anything that is average. We are going to use what’s already there and make a statement.”
Myslichuk has been in discussions with the city and expects some tax benefits will be approved under existing downtown programs that support residential conversions, plus potentially other municipal grants. Discussions remain ongoing, he said.
The “off-market transaction” of the building changing ownership was handled by Brook Handysides and Brad Collins of CBRE Windsor.
“This will become a bright spot in the core,” Handysides said. “People will get to see gentrification of a trophy property in the city.”
Also included in the deal was an adjoining two-storey commercial property at 128 University Ave. W. that most recently was leased to a dry cleaners on the ground floor and bar upstairs. For now, Myslichuk said his focus remains on fixing up the Security Building, so there are not yet any firm long-terms plans for the structure next door.
Myslichuk is working to get building permits approved and wants renovations to get underway as quickly as possible, but noted how everything remains slowed down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We can only go as fast as we can right now,” he said. “We will work around (virus-related issues), but I’m excited.
“You can walk by that building 100 times, but you still can’t help but notice it. It’s one of the nicest buildings downtown and has a great history. It’s a project that won’t be done overnight, we will just bring it along in stages. But when we’re finished it will be a showstopper.”