By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The Genosha Hotel has a new owner with a familiar face.
Richard Summers, who previously attempted a renovation project on the hotel in 2009, is back with a new partner in TT7 Inc. and together the pair are looking to convert the historic hotel into 102 “luxury micro style apartments”.
“I am very thankful to have the opportunity to finish the development we started several years prior,” Summers says.
A previous partnership with the hotel’s owner Richard Senechal dissolved after the failed renovation attempt, but Summers credits him with keeping the project afloat.
“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.
According to Summers, planning and design is already underway for the project with work expected to begin in late September and occupancy scheduled for August 2018.
The project’s previous plan received strong support from Oshawa city council, who approved a series of development incentives for the project including nearly $700,000 in tax breaks over the next 10 years and a $750,000 facade improvement grant.
A report regarding incentives for the latest project is part of the agenda for a special meeting of the Development Services committee scheduled for 2 p.m. on Aug. 22.
“It’s simple, the city and regional development incentive programs will help ensure its completion and success,” Summers says. “The benefit to the residents of the city and region far outweigh any development incentives provided.”
Along with Summers’s previous attempt at revitalizing the aging building, several other owners and developers have attempted the feat, including the latest company Bowood Properties. The company made it through several visible improvements to the building, including new windows and a roof before work halted last year.
At the time, plans saw the building repurposed 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.
Now, Summers says he realizes the importance of the project and notes that the timing couldn’t be better for the Genosha to be completed.
“We definitely want to get it right with the city and the residents and be positive because of the all the different owners and companies that have been involved and unfortunately haven’t finished the project yet. It’s created uncertainty and seems to cause the city and its residents frustration,” he says.
Summers notes 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.”
The significance of the project is one repeatedly noted by council, and Councillor John Aker, the chair of the development services committee says he’s confident in the new owners.
“This is very important for the downtown,” he says. “We’re very confident in these purchasers and the development services staff of the development services department and the development services committee want to work with these people.”