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2017 Year in Review: Ups and downs at the Genosha

It was a year of trials and tribulations for Oshawa’s historic Genosha Hotel.

When the calendar flipped over to 2017, the hotel was owned by Richard Senechal.

In March, Senechal told The Oshawa Express that Bowood Properties, former construction manager on the hotel had shown interest in becoming part owner but no agreement was ever made.

Senechal confirmed that he had met with Oshawa Mayor John Henry and other members of council to update them on the status of his plans.

The vision for the Genosha at the time was to repurpose it into 66 apartments – 40 one bedrooms and 26 bachelor units in the top five floors – with the ground floor reserved for commercial tenants. An estimate for the renovations previously pegged the cost at around $8.5 million. When the initial plans were approved in the summer of 2015, a flurry of work began that saw new windows installed and a new roof, along with perhaps the most visible change when the brick was cleaned for the first time in decades.

The project has also received strong monetary support in the form of development grants from the city, which are set to be paid out upon the project’s completion. These include a façade improvement loan of $750,000 to be paid out in annual payments of $75,000 over the next 10 years, the money for which will be coming from the city’s Civic Property Development Reserve and funded through $75,000 in annual budget contributions. The remaining incentive comes in the form of an increased assessment grant to be divvied out over the next 14 years, which allows the city to waive all or some of a building’s property taxes for any given year.

However, in August, it was announced the hotel had been sold and a recognizable face was returning.

Richard Summers, who previously attempted a renovation project on the hotel in 2009, was back with a new partner in TT7 Inc. and together the pair announced plans convert the historic hotel into 102 “luxury micro style apartments.”

Summers said while Senechal’s attempts to renovate the hotel had gone by the wayside, he deserved a great deal of credit in keeping the project alive.

“Senechal has done a great job at keeping the very challenging property afloat over many years and two recessions. He has made it possible for Summers & Co., a shareholder, and TT7 Inc. to purchase and complete the redevelopment project,” he says.

At the time, Summers noted that with the increased investment in downtown, the completion of the Genosha will help to connect a series of important developments throughout the city’s core.

“Currently, the former Genosha Hotel is surrounded by over half a billion dollars of new investment with the courthouse, Tribute Communities Centre and the new 100 Bond luxury apartment rentals. The successful completion of the Genosha redevelopment would officially connect these investments to the whole downtown,” he says. “I believe the finished product with the city’s newly planned streetscape along King Street will bring great added value and enhanced image to the downtown and city.”

With Summers once again taking ownership of the building, he was seeking an extension of the incentives previously approved by the city and region.

However, in October, plans changed again, albeit slightly.

Council approved a revised plan calling for 86 luxury apartments, instead of the previously approved 66.

In the interim, Summers said the Oshawa Power and Utilities Corporation (OPUC) have removed the old transformer systems from the building’s basement and that Enbridge has brought new gas lines to the property. As well, work is currently underway with a local elevator company.

In December, Durham regional council approved $564,000 in funding assistance for the project, and Heritage Oshawa approved the alternations to the plans, leading the way for a similar go-ahead from city council with occupancy scheduled for December 2018.