Heard on the Street March 2017
Almost 20 years after it was first proposed by businessman Peter Lui and supported by local realtor Al Teshuba, a Chinatown district along Wyandotte Street West or University Avenue West may come to fruition. It’s now among many suggestions in a City of Windsor strategic plan to create districts within the city to help build distinct identities across all the business improvement areas. But, almost two decades ago and then again more recently, all the idea needed was an agency to take the lead and about $150,000 in seed money to get it started, says Teshuba. It needed promoting, it needed flags and banners and after one year, the merchants and business owners would get a chance to continue it beyond a year by chipping in about two percent of their property taxes to keep it going, Teshuba indicates. But, Teshuba remarks, overtaxed merchants had little appetite for paying out any more money and the idea faded away. In 1999, Lui’s dream included a hotel, commercial and retail developments, restaurants and Asian Gateway arches with part of the development built across the top of the Windsor-Detroit rail tunnel on Wyandotte Street West. Lui, who is now semi-retired, had even put down a deposit to buy a portion of that land, but when CN Rail pulled out of the deal in November 1999, the dream died. CN eventually turned the rail tunnel over to CP Rail which, in partnership with Borealis Infrastructure, planned to build a $350-$400 million double-stack rail tunnel. Lui resurrected his Chinatown plan in 2008, but again it came to nothing. In 2015, the rail tunnel proposal was shelved indefinitely by CP and Borealis.
There’s no word yet (at time of writing) from Devonshire Mall officials as to when its HMV store will close. The company went into receivership in late January, owing $56 million to suppliers and with no possibility of reversing a trend, which has seen former customers favour streaming, downloading and online shopping. A store employee, who declined to be named, said no closing date has been announced to staff. The store will not be adding any new merchandise and a sale offering up to 30 percent off continues until closing. The company, which was established in 1986, operates 102 stores across Canada.
A new family-fun centre at a transformed Amherstburg Verdi Club is expected to be fully open by June. A partnership between Terry Jones of The Jones Group and Brad Hearn of Hearn and Sons Construction will see the centre renovated to include six bowling lanes, six outdoor volleyball courts, a restaurant, party rooms, a large space for laser tag and a games arcade. General Manager Doug Clarke anticipates everything to be completed by early summer. It’s expected that when fully operational the centre will create about 70 full and part-time jobs. The sports-bar themed restaurant is already open. Closure of the long-time Verdi Club continues a trend, which has seen Royal Canadian Legion branches, Knights of Columbus halls and private clubs, such as the Teutonia Club, close their doors because of dwindling memberships.