Mr. Farhi's New Downtown (Part 1)
The canal project must be dead already with this Star headline I saw on Sunday evening on the online edition. First the canal to divert us from the Greenlink failure and now Greenlink to divert us from the East End downtown story:
- "Councillors to push GreenLink on premier"
My head is spinning from the City Hall spinning!
- “East-side renaissance”
- "I can see eventually 60 acres being developed ...the equivalent of an entire downtown."
- "a straight-shooter" mayor and council who are pro-development"
- "successful downtowns have a number of attractions, which include residential, retail and entertainment developments. Most urban villages have a "centre piece" attraction, such as an arena."
- "hotel, restaurants, retail outlets, apartment towers and senior-citizen residences."Why it sound just like what is being proposed at the canal urban village!
If you see Mayor Eddie Francis on the street over the next few days, you will notice one thing: he is a lot shorter. You see Gord Henderson’s big story about the redevelopment of the Lear site by Mr. Farhi effectively cut off Francis at his knees.That gasp you heard was almost the last one of our sick downtown. It is on life support with its condition critical after the front page Star story.
Some of you may have wondered why I have not written more on the GO BIG OR GO HOME canal vision of our Mayor. I did not do so precisely because I have learned with our Mayor that what you see at the beginning is not necessarily what you get at the end. We are generally being set up for something so I chose this time not to waste a lot of time on the pie-in-the-sky concept. I expected something else.I wonder why there was no discussion with Councillors according to Councillor Halberstadt:
- "of this signifiant initiative during a special downtown strategic planning meeting of Council on June 23, more than a month after the Brook McIlroy consultants were hired. At the July 23 meeting, called at the insistence of Councillor Jo-Anne Gignac after much delay, development of the City Centre West lands into an urban village was the central topic.
I can just picture the gentleman holding back tears of laughter as he said
- “the proposed downtown marina and canal, now the subject of a feasibility study to which he contributed $25,000, is "a genius idea" and exactly the kind of thinking Windsor needs. "This is the most interesting plan I've seen in any community in this country."
What a nice word "interesting" is. It is also the most ridiculous but he did not have to say that. He must be thinking to himself that if this is the kind of competition he faces in Windsor with other developers and with this kind of a City Hall then he will become a kagjillionaire within a few years. (That is much more than a multimillionaire in case you were wondering.).
I found it quite odd in Henderson’s story that Eddie’s name did not appear until close to the end. I’m surprised there was not a press conference with the Mayor and Mr. Farhi to announce his plans. This has to be a “good news” story for Windsor and yet the Mayor is virtually invisible. No fireworks, no chest thumping by the Mayor. No huge press conference. No pretty artist's drawings. Why not? What is going on? This is NOT typical.
Eddie made a very strange comment that is going to raise a tremendous amount of controversy and questions:
- “The entire Lauzon Road corridor is going to come to life again. This just adds to and complements the activity at the WFCU Centre. Shrewd investors are already picking up properties."
- “ Shrewd investors have already picked up properties.”
It was a no-brainer after all. Many years ago, I met one of the gentlemen involved in building the arena in Kanata, Ontario which has gone bankrupt twice I believe. He and his colleagues also owned a lot of the land around the arena. They were going to make money redeveloping that land and not running an arena.
I thought that the people behind Project Ice Track were going to do the same thing in Tecumseh. I believe that there was a lawsuit still with respect to the property. The important part of the property was not going to be the arena but the redevelopment around it.
In this case, it is the City at risk with respect to the arena and not Mr. Farhi. In addition it appears that the City is paying for all the roads and bridges and infrastructure required in that area because of the arena.
To come back to the canal vision, is the Farhi "downtown" why Eddie made the announcement of that project? Is that why Eddie is virtually invisible on the announcement of the plans by Mr. Farhi. Just take a look at the words at the top of this BLOG.
- “I can see eventually 60 acres being developed ... the equivalent of an entire downtown.”
In the circumstances, I do not understand how Dave Cooke can continue on this mockery of a feasibility study especially given what he had said in the past with respect to an arena downtown. He does a disservice to himself and his reputation by doing so. He is being used to make fools of citizens. If he does not understand this now, then I feel sorry for him. If there is a choice between a real project run by a real developer or a pie in the sky concept put forward by a Young Entrepreneur of the Year, where do you think that the shrewd investor would go!
Poor Councillor Brister:
- “If someone were to indicate an interest in buying a piece of that 60 acres, Farhi said he would consider it.
"If we have to sever a few acres, sure."
Will Mr. Farhi receive more years from the City for not having to build downtown at his land beside the Art Gallery instead of renting parking spaces to the City for cash:
- "As for the feared traffic bottlenecks this winter during Spitfire games at the WFCU Centre, Farhi said that won't happen. "Don't worry. I'll give them what they need," he said referring to the thousands of former Lear parking spaces."