Ouellette Avenue property owner offers free rent

Source: Dave Hall, The Windsor Star

A major downtown Windsor property owner is offering six months of rent-free space in six vacant storefronts on Ouellette Avenue to help new business owners and entrepreneurs become established.

Italo Ferrari — whose Toronto-area company, Wilsondale Assets Management Inc., also owns the office building at 500 Ouellette Ave. — is entering into the joint initiative with the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association.

“We all know creative people, entrepreneurs who just need a break, a hand to help them grow,” said Ferrari, who has developed similar business models in St. Catharines, Dundas and Hamilton. “They just need someone to round them all up in one place.”

In addition to the storefront project, Ferrari and the DWBIA are also working on establishing a tech industry business incubator, which would be located on the penthouse floor of 500 Ouellette. The space recently became vacant when the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation moved its offices to Manning Road in Tecumseh.

“We’re looking for tech experts, people who have loads of creative IT ideas,” Ferrari said. “Most of them are young. They’re working part-time at this, they’re working free for someone or working two jobs to make it work. They also need a place to go and we have 8,500 square feet waiting for them.”

Chris Edwards, executive director of the DWBIA, said the proposal is exciting.

 

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Former TD bank sold

Source: Ellen Van Wageningen, The Windsor Star

A Toronto-area company is increasing its investment in downtown Windsor to $20 million, with a deal to acquire the former TD Canada Trust building at the corner of Ouellette Avenue and Wyandotte Street.
A deal to purchase the building from the bank closes in September, said Italo Ferrari, of Wilsondale Assets Management Inc.
“It’s a good property. It’s on the corner, and I own the garage behind it,” he said.

Ferrari’s company also owns 500 Ouellette and the storefronts below it, a two-storey building on City Hall Square, and two former bingo halls at 722 and 744 Ouellette. The 722 Ouellette building has been refurbished as a business accelerator and the new home of the WEtech Alliance. A deal for Wilsondale to take over the vacant 744 Ouellette building next door closes Monday, Ferrari said.

 

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Good news as Downtown Windsor BIA ordered out of current home

Source: Doug Schmidt, The Windsor Star

The chairman of the Downtown Windsor BIA is all smiles, even though his organization has been ordered out of its current home on short notice.

“We look at this as an exciting opportunity,” Larry Horwitz said of being told to vacate 474 Ouellette Ave., perhaps as soon as within the next few weeks.

Horwitz is now scrambling to find new digs, but he’s confident that getting the boot is actually good news for the downtown’s main strip. The landlord, Wilsondale Assets Management Inc., plans to consolidate the DWBIA offices with currently vacant storefronts on either side and then prepare the roughly 12,000-square-foot footprint for a large new business.

“If everything comes together, the tenant will take the entire ground floor,” said Italo Ferrari, the owner of Vaughan-based Wilsondale Assets. He said a confidentiality agreement prevents him from divulging  details, only to say it’s an American firm looking for a Windsor storefront office operation.

Ferrari owns a number of downtown properties, including the adjacent 11-storey office building at 500 Ouellette, which is connected to the Ferrari-owned Park ‘n’ Go parking garage at 36 Wyandotte St. E. That structure is next door to the former TD Canada Trust building at the corner of Ouellette and Wyandotte, which Ferrari said he’s also preparing for a new tenant, albeit one which would take up only a tenth of the three-storey, 21,600-square-foot retail/office building.

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U. Windsor makes downtown its destination

Three kilometres is a short distance, but far enough to isolate the University of Windsor from downtown.

That’s about to change. With key support from the city, the university begins construction this summer on a $70-million campus downtown.

Once strangers, Canadian postsecondary institutions and local municipalities now see themselves as intimate allies in realizing their respective ambitions. In Windsor, the collaboration features a once-dominant car town struggling to redefine itself and a below-the-radar university, turning 50 this year, seeking to raise its profile…

Italo Ferrari, president and owner of Wilsondale Assets Management, which controls more than half a million square feet downtown, says economic spinoff from students is “an optical illusion,” because they lack disposable income to patronize specialty shops downtown.

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There could be different kind of press box on Queen St.

Source: Doug Herod, from the St. Catharines Standard

OK, more stuff on the future of The Standard building. Yeah, I know I’ve written about this before. But, c’mon, indulge me. I’ve worked in this joint for almost 34 years. I’m curious to hear about any and all plans for the downtown St. Catharines property, which we’re due to vacate in a couple of months.

Fortunately, Italo Ferrari, the soon-to-be new owner, has plenty of ideas. When I spoke to Ferrari last fall, he had in mind a retail/commercial function for the building. Retail would go on the ground floor and commercial on the top two. He dismissed the idea of residential space. Not enough money in it, he explained.

A few months later, Ferrari was more or less sticking to those plans. His vision for the ground floor had evolved, though. He saw it as a food market. However, there was one rather significant change to the original proposal. Ferrari put in a bid for 17 Queen St. to house the proposed new provincial offences court in St. Catharines. At the time, he also hinted at other big plans for the property, but didn’t want to reveal them publicly until he had a chance to flesh them out.

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