By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The Genosha Hotel is getting a little bit more time.
In a letter sent to Paul Ralph, the city’s commissioner of development services, the current owner of the historic hotel, Richard Senechal, is asking for an extension of the city’s timeline for certain requirements in the agreement that could provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in incentives for the project.
The city’s monetary support, approved in 2015, includes both facade improvement loans and increased assessment grants to give the property tax breaks for the next 10 years.
However, those dollars are contingent on a number of things, including the projects completion, but also that the property find a new owner. Originally, that agreement was meant to be concluded with Bowood Properties, the latest company to attempt a refurbishment of the aging building.
However, Senechal informed The Oshawa Express in March that Bowood was no longer in the picture.
Ralph says that a new owner may have been found.
“That’s why he’s asking for the extension, to facilitate the potential sale of the property,” he says.
The letter sent to Ralph requests an extension to the beginning of September, but Ralph say he plans to give until the end of September. This will make it easy in case any new agreement needs to come before council.
It is unclear how the redevelopment plans will be impacted by the recent news.
According to the approved plans, the Genosha could be 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. 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.
In terms of the city’s financial assistance, 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 2015, the Genosha was assessed at approximately $1.69 million, making the property taxes for a given year approximately $16,800.
Under the city’s program, 100 per cent of the taxes will be waived for the first 10 years under the new owner, with that amount decreasing by 20 percent each year for the remaining four years of the agreement.
According to Councillor John Aker, chair of the development services committee, the project has created a bit of frustration in the downtown.
“It’s frustrating for council, it’s frustrating for the merchants downtown and I think it’s frustrating for everyone who takes an interest in our downtown,” he says.
However, he’s hopeful that recent progress could mean the project gets back on track this fall.
“The majority of citizens of Oshawa and the Oshawa city council want to see the Genosha hotel refurbished and repurposed. In my opinion, there is an agreement of sale for the building, it should complete by the middle of September and we all expect construction to resume in the fall of 2017.”
A request for comment sent to Senechal was not returned as of The Express press deadline.