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Genosha development hits a snag

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Uh oh.

Words uttered by many over the last week when a meeting was announced for councillors to meet with the latest in a long line of developers who are trying to breath new life into the historic Genosha Hotel.

That meeting, on March 5, was to deal with a complaint from Richard Summers, the owner of the Genosha in relation to a series of development charges attached to the first phase of the hotel’s redevelopment. Summers, represented at the meeting by John Mutton with Municipal Solutions, is arguing that the development of the 86 units at the Genosha Hotel should be exempt from the typical education development charges, or approximately $250,000.

These charges are usually applied to new development in order to collect funds to go toward the school board to assist with any pressure said development could place on the surrounding schools.

However, because the Genosha project is technically “urban renewal,” and not new development, the EDCs should not apply,” Mutton says.

“Educational development charges are rarely collected for urban renewal projects like the Genosha,” Mutton said, noting that the charges could put the future of the project at risk.

“With an education DC, this project may not happen,” he said.

However, the Durham District School Board argued that they were “bushwhacked” by the complaint and had very little warning ahead of the meeting to prepare arguments for why the DCs should apply.

“There was no details provided,” said Andrew Baker, the DDSB’s lawyer, noting that some of the information shared at the meeting was “brand new.”

With that said, Summer and Mutton disputed that notion.

“I don’t want that put on us, we did provide it,” Summers said. “We did provide multiple emails and conversations.”

Following discussion, councillors decided to adjourn the meeting for two weeks in order for Summers and the school board representatives to meet and iron out any potential issues.

The fact that the development charges were applied at all was a surprise to Summers.

“I think it’s ridiculous really,” he said.

The frustration was perhaps made worse by the fact that following the stamping of the building permit, the redevelopment of the hotel is ready to push ahead after finalizing the approval process for the third time.

“We’re ready to start tomorrow,” Summers said.

The meeting was adjourned until March 16 at 2 p.m.

The latest saga of the Genosha Hotel began in August of last year when Summers, who previously attempted a renovation project on the hotel in 2009, returned with a new partner in TT7 Inc. and together are looking to convert the historic hotel into luxury apartments.

The project has also received strong monetary support from the city  in the form of development grants, 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.

In December, Durham regional council approved $564,000 in funding assistance for the project.

As well, both the DCs from the City of Oshawa and 93 per cent of DCs from the Region of Durham have been waived.