In the 1989 movie A Field of Dreams Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella hears the iconic and oft-quoted line, “If you build it, they will come.” While the ‘it’ of that statement in the blockbuster film is not referring to the commercial real estate of a prosperous border Ontarian border town but instead a baseball diamond in the middle of an agricultural community, it’s easily applied to Windsor, Ontario.
Windsor is poised to see some astronomical growth in the next five to ten years. We at Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine are excited to highlight for you, our loyal readership, the details, and the opportunities of the place where you may just choose to build, or better yet expand, your commercial real estate empire.
“The city of Windsor is acutely aware of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to take the city through a truly golden era. To that end, they commissioned one of the top consulting teams in the world to complete a study called Windsor Works, and it’s a strategy that they are following heavily. One of the key factors within that study is the improvement of the downtown core. The city has not been shy about creating incentives where your taxes are frozen for 10 years no matter how big the improvements you make. There are other massive benefits as well, including $5000 of credit per unit that you create, residential downtown heritage grants that suck up 50% of certain renovations such as façade grants, etc. The list is quite long.”
According to the Windsor Works Report, the city’s population should continue to increase. This scaling up will support growth and diversification, both as a catalyst for new investment as well as an indicator that the city is consistently able to attract and sustain talent.
Its implementation plan focuses on an initial five-year time horizon, with planned key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure progress against the strategy’s goals stretching all the way to 2030. Some actions recommended in the report can be addressed in a short timeframe, while others, such as growing Windsor’s population, are only measurable over a longer period.
We tapped Mr.Trenhaile, as the leader of the team responsible for 200 or more sales per year, for his insights on the demographics and people of Windsor. Here’s what Rhys had to say,
“I talk with the other community leaders regularly, and there are two abundantly clear things: There is a collective belief that the City of Windsor will likely double in size population-wise before we are dust and buried 6 feet under, and secondly, (and even more surprising) is how different community leaders have concluded different things that are going to happen with all the spinoff, economic, diversification efforts, in the building of literally billions upon billions of dollars in infrastructure, including an international bridge. As a former cabinet explained to me, no one knows all the massive benefits that are coming. The human brain truly cannot fathom it all because of how much is coming in such a short time period.“
Growth Through Grants
As of July 2021, the city has approved the creation of 545 residential units through the grant programs designed to incentivize diverse infill housing in the downtown core.
We know that due to the long-established trade routes of our ancestors and European settlers, the major cities of the province bearing the former slogan, ‘yours to discover’ geographically sit close to the great lakes, often following the St. Lawrence River. When compared with the population density of other major Ontario cities on the same path, like Toronto with 1050.7 people per square kilometre, it’s easy to see why Windsor’s coat of arms bears the motto, ‘the river and land sustain us’.
Speaking of resources, Workforce Windsor Essex is one of the organizations leading the charge in establishing formidable action plans to ensure entrepreneurs get the support and tools to make investing in Windsor a strategic move.
In their deep dive into the established labour market, promoting government business supports such as the skills development fund, community planning, and post-secondary partnerships, and offering employment and settlement services, this organization is helping to establish Windsor as THE destination for forward-thinking residential movers and entrepreneurs, alike.
One tool available to the municipality is in its creation of incentives for new firms choosing to plant their roots in Windsor. Many organizations are currently eligible for incentives under the City’s community improvement plans (CIPs). A comprehensive update of CIPs is currently underway. This will place greater importance on research and development as well as manufacturing. Furthermore, this will align closely with the Windsor Works recommendation.
Here to share his boots-on-the-ground knowledge of what initiatives he sees by the local government and business organizations is Rhys Wyn Trenhaile:
“I’m not just a real estate agent; I’m heavily involved in private equity investment in the Windsor area. With my investment partners, we have taken full advantage of the opportunities downtown. Developers and investors reading this magazine have to understand that the further you get away from a financial centre like Toronto, the more financially illiterate the population is. So there are very few players that are playing in the development sandbox of downtown Windsor which creates many opportunities for everyone else. I’m happy to say that we now have various institutions and prominent developers from out of town — especially from the greater Toronto area — asking me to be their “Windsor Sherpa” and joint venture with them. I am more than happy to build up this downtown core with a strict focus over the next 10 years of our rapid massive population growth that’s just beginning. We have an effective vacancy rate of zero currently, and this is only going to sustain itself for many years to come as thousands upon thousands of skilled workers and professionals will be moving to Windsor. Remember, they’re building more than just the biggest battery plant in the Americas; for example, we are getting one of THE two World-Class Research and Development facilities for battery research. This facility alone will house 650 engineers and PhDs — I mean just this announcement alone is massive to future business innovation and job creation in the area.”
I mean, where are they all going to live? This is a fantastic problem for us to solve as builders and developers. I encourage anyone to reach out to me for more information on how to invest in our booming city.”
Relationship With Trade Partner
When we pull the partnership lens out further, one of Windsor’s most lucrative features to business owners comes into our field of view: its proximity to our nation’s biggest trade partner, America.
In 2021, Canada exported $378.07 billion to our neighbours to the south. With Windsor’s close partnership and proximity to Michigan and major industries like the automobile and manufacturing sector, it’s easy to see why there’s a sizable investment to ensure the viability and expansion of the trade with the upcoming Gordie Howe International Bridge.
The establishment of the Gordie Howe International Bridge will remove barriers to trade ensuring the smooth relay of natural resources, supplies, and finished products between our two nations positioning Windsor, an already renowned business-favourable city, to lead the way in business innovation.
As mentioned earlier, Ontario’s motto was formerly “yours to discover” replaced in 2020 by “A place to grow”. In typical enterprising fashion, the City of Windsor seems to have taken that slogan to heart. With all its economic expansion, generational shift, and infrastructure scale-up, it seems perfect for entrepreneurs, larger enterprises, and families as a “place to grow”.
If you’re interested in learning more about the building of downtown Windsor or you’re considering buying or selling, reach out to Rhys Wyn Trenhaile at email@example.com.