By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
For local developer Richard Summers, the finish line is in sight.
It was about a year ago when Summers first held the building permit for the revitalization project on the city’s historic Genosha Hotel.
The city likely hands out permits on a daily or weekly basis, but this situation has a profound background.
For decades, the once bustling building in Oshawa’s center has fallen further and further from the glory it once held.
A number of developers have attempted to bring new life to the Genosha and failed – including Summers himself.
A decade ago, Summers and a partner, Richard Senechal, proposed to convert the aging asset into student housing for the downtown Ontario Tech University campus, known as then as the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
Summers and Senechal received more than $1 million in tax breaks and grants for their project in 2009, on the condition work would be complete within a year.
When that deadline wasn’t met, an extension was granted until 2011.
However, the building permits had expired and all the work eventually came to a standstill.
In 2015, Bowood Properties came into the picture and struck a deal with Senechal to finally finish the redevelopment.
Oshawa council once again stepped up with more than $1 million in grants, contingent on the building’s completion.
Some work was finished, including an overhaul of the roof, but by 2016 the project sputtered and things were at a standstill again.
Summers returned to the fold with plans to convert the hotel into a series of luxury apartments and a ground floor of commercial space.
Anyone driving down King Street over the past year can see the activity happening on the building.
Late last month, the media, local politicians, and other community members received a much closer look at where the project stands.
“We are on schedule, and on budget,” Summers states as he lead the tour.
He estimates a late-summer, early-fall conclusion for the project.
Summers acknowledges previous attempts at redevelopment created a cloud of uncertainty.
However, he notes there is “no going back now,” joking he knew he either had to finish the project this time, or “move out of town.”
For the most part, the inside of the building will bear little resemblance to what residents will remember.
But some historic elements, such as a winding staircase from the original lobby, will endure.
The building will feature 86 studio and one-bedroom “luxury units” which include a four-piece bathroom, full kitchen and breakfast bar.
Other features include a rooftop terrace, laundry rooms, storage lockers, and bike racks.
Prices will range from $995 to $1,990, Summers says.
The building itself is structurally sound but did require substantial renovations, he adds.
Speaking on what is different this time around, the developer says he is “more mature.”
He also credits “a good team and partnerships.”
“Everyone has been excellent,” he says.
While this is a business venture for Summers, he believes the benefits to the city are tangible.
To him, having such a prominent building sitting vacant for an extended period of time hurt Oshawa’s image.
“Cities are judged by their downtown,” he says.
Once the project is complete, he believes it will help stimulate additional investment in the downtown core.
The official name of the development is 70 King, but Summers concedes to many residents, it will still be the Genosha Hotel, or The Genosha or even “the Genosh” for short – with strong ties to the names Oshawa and General Motors.
While respecting the impact GM has had on the city, Summers said there is much more to Oshawa, and the rebranding reflects that.
He says there has been tremendous interest in 70 King so far, with plans to start public tours over the next few months.
For more information, go to 70king.ca