Despite High Tender, City To Convert Pelissier St Parking Garage Retail Space

The City of Windsor is going ahead with the conversion of the ground floor of the Pelissier St parking garage.

At Tuesday night's council meeting, a long list of delegates spoke against the decision which will see the city spend $880,000 to remove retail space for an additional 43 parking spots.

Council had only earmarked $500,000 for the project...the additional funds will come from reserves.

Downtown Windsor BIA Chair Larry Horwitz calls the move "a major step backwards".

He says it's one in a long list of bad decisions.

"Council has failed us. The mayor has failed us. They've done something that sets back downtown, one step forward, three steps back, and we keep doing that. We did it with the arena. We moved it to Tecumseh. Windsor Arena is now in Tecumseh or close to it. We lost all kinds of pedestrian traffic. We lost everything."

Horwitz says council should have reconsidered.

"They've had a chance to turn around when they've over run their budget and they've turned around and spent almost a million dollars on ripping out the retail that everybody was against. Even Paul Borrelli said Urban Planning 101 says keep the retail on the main street, but then he voted against it."

He says making downtown a destination shouldn't be a battle.

"I'm extremely disappointed. Downtown will really suffer from this. We're getting a smaller and smaller downtown. When I was a kid, downtown was much, much bigger and now we keep ripping out one building after another. In the end we're going to have nowhere for new businesses to go. This is wrong."

The mid-80's was the last time the garage's ground level retail space was 100% occupied and since then the city has struggled to find steady tenants.

Last November, council voted in favour of removing the store fronts.

The garage's two tenants, a hair salon and the Windsor Pride headquarters, have moved.