A ‘catalyst’ for the core — DoubleTree by Hilton takes over former downtown Radisson Hotel
WINDSOR – A downtown landmark is in the midst of a major revitalization, an investment which the developer and Windsor’s mayor are convinced will pay big dividends for the core.
A multimillion-dollar project is underway to transform the former Radisson Hotel on Riverside Drive West into a luxury DoubleTree by Hilton.
“We basically gutted it — you’re going to see in the next 30 days scaffolding on the buildings, new windows, new screens, new HVAC, new mechanical, new electrical, new everything,” said London-based developer Shmuel Farhi. “The only thing we kept is the skeleton.”
While Farhi did not want to give exact numbers, a previous city council report suggested the project would cost around $14 million.
The “high-end” hotel is attached to the existing Best Western Plus (also developed by Farhi Holdings Corporation) and will feature 46 one-bedroom suites for long-term stays along with 115 hotel-style suites, totalling nearly 500 hotel rooms and two ballrooms between the two. The hotels will share an 8,000-square-foot independent restaurant that Farhi is partnering on with Keg franchise owner Ray Redekopp.
“We’ll be adding a ground-level small patio and a second-floor opening — so two concepts,” Redekopp said. “The second floor is going to be called Hash Breakfast Eatery, which will overlook the Detroit skyline, and on the lower level will be Forno 277,” which is named after the oven and will offer pizza, pasta and other fare.
The project benefitted from the Downtown Windsor Enhancement Strategy and Community Improvement Plan that offers grants and tax rebates for initiatives that bring more residents downtown and encourage redevelopment of vacant buildings. Farhi Holdings will not be charged the taxes for the enhanced value of the property for up to 10 years.
“If it wasn’t for the city politicians and the staff who are working diligently we would not be able to get this development through,” Farhi said. “So kudos to them for what they’ve done.”
Farhi said “the time has come” for this type of development. He anticipates a completed project by next January or February and estimates the DoubleTree and restaurants will create 200 jobs. According to a report approved by city council, the construction will likely lead to around 100 direct and in-direct jobs.
“We believe the downtown is important, we believe downtown is the heart and soul of every community, and downtown is a picture of what the rest of the community looks like,” Farhi said.
Farhi Holdings Corporation has made a number of property investments in Windsor and has plans for additional developments in the city, including a 24- to 30-storey multimillion-dollar residential property on Riverside Drive, which Farhi said “will be another big boost.”
“We’re very happy to pour our heart, soul and money into Windsor. We believe in the people, we believe in the market, we believe in the leadership,” said Farhi, who commended Mayor Drew Dilkens for helping create a positive place to invest. “Any dollar amount we spend there we believe will help the renaissance of Windsor as a whole.”
Dilkens said the new investment bodes well for downtown Windsor.
“It’s a strong sign when you see a private developer see the potential in the community,” he said. “And, not only see it, but put their money where their mouth is.”
One of the primary reasons the city offers a CIP is to help encourage in-fill, said the mayor, adding he believes Farhi’s hotel rejuvenation and rebrand will attract more people to the area.
“It’s going to have an outdoor patio there, so it’s a real opportunity to enjoy the waterfront,” Dilkens said. “We have one of the best waterfronts I’ve seen anywhere in the world and any way we can create opportunities for people to provide amenities to allow the public to enjoy the waterfront is a great thing.”
Dilkens said he believes this project will help pave the way for future developments.
“I really think this particular investment will lead to more great things from Mr. Farhi and other folks, as well,” Dilkens said. “These types of things act as a catalyst for others to happen.”