By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – Every day it seems, news arrives from Detroit that points yet another finger at the mayor of Windsor, an Edgar Francis, who is able to do nothing reasonable to rebuild the city’s failing downtown.
Sure, he is putting taxpayers at risk with his swimming canal, known by some as the EdgarPlex. He is using public money rather than finding a partner or two to build the thing in such a way that it would add the building to the tax rolls and give the city a nice bonus.
Instead it is just another example of the disaster that is the city’s inward and selfish council, one that doesn’t like working with others when it has the taxpayer’s dime at its disposal.
What city hall watchers are finding hard to digest, even those who devour nice Greek yoghurts, is why it is so hard for the mayor of Windsor to accomplish anything. Without the University of Windsor and St. Clair College pouring taxpayer money into the downtown, the place would be pretty much a ghost town except for a rumoured redevelopment of the barn, or some other location, into a flea market.
As usual the mayor, when he is not jetting off somewhere on a mystery trip, can be found nattering – talking, always talking – about the great diversification of the downtown but he offers no proof.
He even holds up his Community Improvement Plan that managed to help relocate one company from near Huron Church to Ouellette and Wyandotte, but that is all. He says he is a fan of the Windsor Star moving to the old Palace Theatre but doesn’t explain that it is the old Palace theatre building meaning the downtown has lost a theatre.
Theatres are something that seem doomed in the city, yet they could be great cultural “hubs.” The Capitol sat empty for years, just like the Walkerville Theatre sits now with the mayor offering no plans to turn that situation around.
Yet, almost daily, news arrives from Detroit about hundreds of workers being relocated to the downtown core. The most recent is the highly regarded global accounting firm PwC US, one of metro Detroit’s largest employers, announcing that has signed a letter of intent to enter lease negotiations with Portfolio Property Management Global for over 70,000 square feet in One Detroit Centre at 500 Woodward Avenue.
If the lease negotiations prove successful, more than 650 PwC partners and professionals will make their move into the technologically state-of-the-art facilities in December 2012.
In an announcement of the plan David Breen PwC’s local managing partner noted that his firm has “a proud history in Detroit; with offices in this great city since 1915.” Breen adds that the company’s downtown move “demonstrates our continued commitment to serving Michigan’s leading companies as well as our confidence in the local economy.”
Besides signalling its faith and commitment to an exciting and invigorating part of the city’s centre, PwC sought out the building to implement a new firm strategy for its work environment.
“We’re building out the space to leverage the firm’s new model of office design, which includes a modern and open floor plan to enhance team collaboration and client delivery,” Breen said.
The PwC announcement follows on the heels of Chrysler’s plan to take over the top floors of the Dime building which also included renaming it Chrysler House.
City hall watchers are pulling on their beards, at least the one guy that has one, trying to figure out why Detroit is doing so well and not Windsor.
They are concerned that the only development in the core seems to have to do with spending funds from taxpayers.
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