Windsor city council approved a request from a local developer for community improvement fund money to re-develop the former SilverCity theatre.
Joe Mikhail, of JBM Property Holdings, which owns the theatre, submitted an application for about $1.9 million in business development grants over 10 years.
The application was endorsed by the city’s development and heritage committee last month, and was formally approved by council on Monday night without discussion on council’s consent agenda.
“The closure of the theatre has led to considerable financial strain on us, along with other retailers relying on them. Its closure has further created increased vandalism in the area and created safety issues for many,” Mikhail wrote in a letter accompanying his application.
The former SilverCity theatre has been vacant for more than two years.
Mikhail is proposing to redevelop part of the building back into theatre space, attracting a new tenant.
The CIP is a program to incentivize development in the city. The grant covers up to 100 per cent of municipal property taxes for the property over the term of the agreement, which is paid by the property owner and granted back.
The city keeps the value of the pre-development taxes, while granting back the value of the taxes based on the improved property value.
Joe Mikhail is the owner of the former SilverCity property (Dale Molnar/CBC)
The re-development will cost about $6.5 million, according to the application. The property value is expected to climb to about $8 million after development, up from the $2.5 million current assessment.
According to the city report, two of the vacant theatres would be renovated to office or retail space and are not the subject of the grant application.
According to the application, the redevelopment of the theatre would provide as many as 30 jobs and help retain and attract other businesses in the Walker Road area.
The value of the grant would reflect about 30 per cent of the total planned investment in redeveloping the property, staff said.
Mikhail wrote to council that to secure a theatre tenant, he’s worked with the surrounding businesses (of which he owns several buildings) to negotiate long-term stays, in exchange for rent reductions or financial incentives.
However, he says, Windsor is in need of a second movie theatre to serve the city. The only current theatre is at Devonshire Mall. Outside Windsor, there are movie theatres in Lakeshore and Leamington
The property has been vacant for about two years since Cineplex closed the theatre during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mikhail has spoken about the issues with the property, including several thefts and the destruction of the building’s cooling units.
After Cineplex pulled out of the building, Mikhail told CBC News he saw few other options than to tear down the space. Earlier this year, Milkhail said vandals destroyed a $100,000 heating and cooling unit.