Mr. Farhi's New Downtown (Part 2)
I find it hard to believe that the Casino was so desperate not to have a competing facility near to them that they would have not built what they were going to do anyway to protect their existing investment from the competition of the Detroit casinos. I found this comment in the story from Rick Lescanec of Deerbrook Realty interesting as well:
- “As for economic spin-offs from the new WFCU Centre, Lescanec said anything which creates activity is beneficial. "Any time you can get 4,000 or 5,000 people to come down to an event, that has to help."
Didn’t the Casino spokesperson say something similar the other day:
- "Of course, the Colosseum has been a major change as well and there's clearly been a spike in attendance with the influx of 5,000 people on concert nights.
"I would say the majority are U.S. visitors, but there has been an increase in our Canadian clientele as well."
It was consistent with Dave Cooke said several years ago:
- "It just makes me so angry that we're missing such a huge opportunity. If you want to revitalize your downtown, you build things downtown."
He fears the "urban village" touted for the Western Super Anchor site is merely a sop to minimize opposition to moving the arena from downtown. "What marketing studies have been done? Where's the business plan to show us this is even viable? Show us the goods..."
Can you image, the Palace of Auburn Hills has Janet Jackson and Celine Dion appearing one day after another at their location. Can you imagine if comparable acts were at the Casino and at a downtown arena on the same day. What excitement that would generate. How many visitors would flood into Windsor to spend money here especially if there were matinee and evening performances.
After all, Las Vegas or the theatre districts in London and New York have not been hurt with one entertainment complex beside another. They just draw people to the area to the advantage of all of the businesses.
There is no point second-guessing really but one has to wonder what downtown Windsor would have been like with an arena here given Mr. Farhi’s comment about a new downtown in the East End that will be created around the East End arena. He does not seem to be concerned about the Arena creating a dead spot on days when there is nothing going on the way some people in the City were about a downtown arena. He understands its purpose as a focus and a draw.
Beztak was chased out of town, we never had an RFP for the urban village lands… just a single source idea dreamed up by the Mayor with $10,000 worth of taxpayer paid drawings using the CAO approval system and only “tipping off” some of the Councillors.
Mr. Farhi is being very clever too. Note that this may be an East End trial balloon that he has created to see what interest is generated. It does not seem that he has any firm plans for what he wants to do yet:
- "[He] confirmed in a phone interview that he's finalizing plans to tear down the sprawling 43-year-old factory, with demolition beginning as early as October, and is working on long-term development plans for the 60-acre site that could, over the long haul, exceed 500,000 square feet and would benefit from close proximity to the city's WFCU Arena complex.
"It would complement the great work the city has done."
"I see mixed use. Commercial. Anything and everything we can build there. We can do whatever. I have to see what we can place next to it (the arena)…
If someone were to indicate an interest in buying a piece of that 60 acres, Farhi said he would consider it."
He is out there flogging his real estate with a free front page story in the Star to do his selling for him. It will be picked up by others in the general and real estate press. He did not even have to pay for an ad!
What he has done however is told possible investors in Windsor that he is ready to go now with this massive development that will be the Centre of Windsor in the future. Talk about discouraging people from going to the urban village area. He is effectively saying that even if the Mayor was serious about his canal vision, it would take an undetermined number of years to get regulatory approvals and to build the canal system so why go there. Instead if you go to Windsor, go to his complex.
By the time anything can be done downtown, his new "downtown" would be up and running.
In passing, PCR should be really pleased. They got a nice carrot to help him out. They came out of nowhere to get the arena. Now they seem to be the contractor of choice for Mr. Farhi:
- "he's been "talking to many different contractors" but would especially like to work with the Collavino family, owners of PCR Contractors, which is building the WFCU Centre.
"They're good people. A great family. I hope they're going to take a good part of that looking forward," he said."
What’s really going on you might ask. It is pretty obvious. Forget the canals and big developments in the urban village space. We don't need it anymore since we have this massive development in the East End. Why it almosts sounds like the rationale for not having a downtown arena doesn't it. If we have a Casino complex downtown, we can move our arena anywhere. So now we can move our downtown eastwards too.
Don't worry about the urban village lands. This property will have other uses needed by the Mayor and the Province will help in that redevelopment too.
We are going to be paying for Eddie Francis Square soon.
I’m sure that you have seen the recent story on Eh-Channel about the mess that the existing City Hall is in and that it might take millions of dollars to renovate it because of all the problems. Remember this also:
- "Corporate Space Needs Study and Site Condition Assessment Study for 350 City Hall Square: To review the opportunity for consolidating various off site satellite administrative operations within a centralized campus environment with a view of creating a long term spatial program that is both efficient and effective while taking advantage of available corporate synergies."
Centralized campus environment… remember the image above I created of the Golden triangle downtown with a new City Hall being built where the Barn is. No wonder it has never been designated as a heritage building. All of that area will be the new "campus" for our politicians and administrators so that they can rule us more effectively, or rather ignore us completely.
Campus Martius in downtown Detroit; Campus Francis in downtown Windsor. It has a certain ring to it don't you agree!
And of course as I also said before, the Glengarry non-profit apartments have to move as well. You cannot chance having a flea-infested area where there was "drugs, prostitutes and crime" near Campus Francis now can you. Even if things have improved there.
I hear also that the Casino is not happy with some apartment buildings near their complex either. It spoils the view so they need to be torn down sooner rather than later.
Where can they all go… I’ve got it… the urban village lands. I spelled out all of this in my BLOG quite sometime ago [February 12, 2007. “New City Hall Progress Report”]. They all can be rebuilt there. So what if they are not high-priced condos. They are right beside the funky bus terminal. Look at all of the new business that Transit Windsor would get. Of course Mr. Farhi's land would have to be expropriated to make way for them too. He would NOT be happy about that at all I am sure but what choice would he have.
Let's not get too carried away about east end redevelopment yet either. Whatever happened to the Fairfield Inn by Marriott that was supposed to be built in the east end? It was supposed to open in mid-2008. It is said that Mr. Farhi "is planning for the long term."
- "He's certainly not talking short-term because there's no demand, and it will not develop without demand," said Williams. Shmuel Farhi is a smart man. He's not going to do it unless the economics work."
Good to see that those in the loop are prepared to do the Mayor's work to try to get money out of the Province. I'd be surprised if the Premier gives them the time of day at AMO.
If Councillor Hatfield thinks he can still sell Greenlink to a person with an "open mind," it must be because the person has no brains. Their brains would have fallen out of their head from "bending their ears" as the Councillor wants to do .
The game has still not played itself out yet. More is still to come.