By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
What may be seen as a simple municipal document to most represents the next step in years of dedication, and sometimes frustration, for others.
On May 3, Richard Summers, owner of the former Genosha Hotel, came into possession of the building permit he’s been seeking for months.
Summers is the latest in a long line of developers who are trying to breath new life into the historic downtown building.
In fact, this is the second go around for Summers, who attempted a renovation project on the hotel in 2009.
He repurchased the building last summer along with a new partner in TT7 Inc.
They intend to construct 86 units, the majority one-bedroom or bachelor apartments, along with commercial space on the ground floor of the building.
Several members of city council joined Summers in front of the hotel on Friday, May 4 to celebrate the news.
“An official permit has not been obtained on this project almost ever that I know of, and definitely in decades, so that’s a good sign,” Summers told The Oshawa Express.
He was hopeful his team would be on site this past Monday to prepare for the next phase of the project.
“Within a week or so, we’ll hopefully have our accelerated construction plan implemented,” he added.
While acknowledging it was a tedious progression getting to this point, Summers says he is not dwelling on the past.
“City staff and politicians have been very helpful and supportive, but there’s been a lot of planning approvals and design approvals needed. So it’s just taken a long time to get through all the processes, but we’re ready to go now and we’re just happy we’ve gotten approval.”
The project hit a snag earlier this year when Summers protested having to pay $250,000 in education development charges to the Durham District School Board.
As previously reported in the Oshawa Express, under the act that governs education development charges, developers in Durham share the burden of these charges, regardless of whether that development is aimed toward young families or will have more or less of an impact on the schools in the area.
Oshawa city council ruled Summers indeed was responsible to pay the charges.
Despite this setback, with building permit in hand, Summers says its onwards and upwards.
“It’s the furthest it’s been at this point, in terms of construction,” he says. “We’re at a very good point in terms of the building, and financially everything is in a good place.”
Summers says he and his partners are focused on working with as many local companies as possible on the project.
“We’ve already engaged and connected with a lot of quality local trades [companies] and suppliers, so we plan on using as much local as we can. We should be securing contracts with our major trades in the next few weeks.”
Given the chequered past of the building’s redevelopment, Summers says he is cautiously optimistic about exactly when the project will be complete.
“We’re thinking it’s about 10 to 12 months, but we have an accelerated plan and hopefully it will go even better, but we’ll see, construction is a challenging process to get into.”
“We understand people who have been negative based on past history, but our goal is to finish the project as fast and efficiently as we can,” he adds. “We believe that cities are judged primarily on the condition of their downtown, and we feel that when the Genosha is complete, it will help brand our city.”