makes the high building costs of one generation the bargains of
a following generation. Time makes certain structures obsolete for
some enterprises, and they become available to others.Time
can make the space efficiencies of one generation the space luxuries
of another generation. One century's building commonplace is another
century's useful aberration.ö
were a necessary ingredient of city diversity back in the 1920s
and the 1890s. Old buildings will still be a necessity when today├s
new buildings are the old ones.
has been, still is, and will be, true no matter how erratic or how
steady construction costs themselves are, because a depreciated
building requires less income than one which has not yet paid off
its capital costs. Steadily rising construction costs simply accentuate
the need for old buildings. From:
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs.
Walker started it all with his distillery, Canadian Club whisky,
and a grand vision of what a community could be. He built this 19th
century model town called Walkerville, unabashedly described at
the turn of the century as ťa place of rapid manufacturing, mercantile
and residential development, and coupled with a coherent conception
of its future possibilitiesśtruly approaches the stimulating standard
of a modern town.ö
whisky business proved so profitable he was able to provide capital
and an infrastructure for the growth of innumerable enterprises.
time, there were so many factory chimneys in Walkerville, especially
along Walker Road, it earned the title of ťthe Birmingham of Canada,ö
named after England's industrial heartland.
was the Canadian birthplace of a struggling automotive industry,
including the Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Chrysler Corporation,
and others that remain in our collective consciousness: Studebaker,
Packard, Champion and Seagraves. In fact, at one time, Walkerville
and Windsor were home to more automotive related businesses than
any city in Canada.
that this area has spawned so much business success, it should come
as no surprise that the district is currently experiencing a small
business revival. A general decline in prosperity began during the
last recession, coupled with three major banks pulling out of the
area, leaving big empty buildings.
something exciting has been happening; buildings are being renovated,
entrepreneurs are setting up shop and a can-do attitude is once
again pervading the district. Bordering one of the most desirable
residential neighbourhoods in the city, Walkerville is proud to
announce that it is open for business!
here to see photos
Brkovich realized early on what many have since discovered:
Walkerville has incredible potential as a commercial district. When
the Old Post Office on Devonshire was put up for sale, he didnt
take much time to make a decision.
had a gut feeling that it would make a great commercial space, but
at that time (1993), there wasnt much commercial activity
in this area. It was a gamble, but I also bought it for personal
reasons I loved that building!"
extensive renovations, the Old Post Office retains all its charm
and looks much like it did when built in 1914.
then Brkovich has purchased four other buildings in Walkerville,
including the Imperial Building (renovated to the tune of over $1,000,000);
the Walkerville Brewing Company building; and two Hiram Walker warehouses
across the street from the brewery.
says renting commercial space in Walkerville turned out to be surprisingly
easy. "I dont have any space available all my units
are 100% rented!"
Hiram Walker warehouses on Argyle present a new challenge for the
energetic Brkovich. "We are looking at a number of options
for these warehouses perhaps well put lofts in them,
but at a very low density. I feel there is also a commercial potential
for them, but havent made a final decision yet."
Real Estate moved into the Post Office building on Devonshire
in October to gain a presence in the Windsor area. According to
broker and owner Jo-Anne Mancini, Walkerville was a great choice.
"Walkerville appeals to everybody the first-time buyer,
young professionals, older residents theres so much
potential for Walkerville."
moved into a wide open space in the Old Post Office building, allowing
Mancini to design the space according to her specifications. "We
plan to stay here for a while," says Mancini.
witnessed much interest in real estate in the area, and plans to
capitalize on the fact the Crown is the only real estate company
physically located in Walkerville. "A lot of outsiders are
considering a move to Walkerville."
Devonshire Road Professional Building
remodelling project was an enterprise born out of a love for Walkerville
one that gave a new life to the Royal Bank building at the
corner of Devonshire and Wyandotte.
it was still a bank, designer builder Stephen Marshall thought it
would be a perfect location for his business. When it came up for
sale six years ago, he and lawyer Jay Armeland founded a firm to
buy and manage the building, which now houses nine tenants
lawyers, accountants, an investment consultant, and Marshalls
firm, Neo Arch Ltd. It was the ideal challenge for Marshall: to
design and rebuild a bank space in such a historic building into
a modern business interior.
just love Walkerville, the scale of the buildings, the quality of
the streetscapes... " says Marshall, who enjoys the fact that
he can walk to work. Adds Armeland: "The clients seem to like
it. Walkerville is very central, the downtown is close, and parkings
not an issue."
estimated that hes been personally involved in 20 to 25 projects
in Walkerville, including the Imperial Building, the Walkerville
Post Office, and the Walkerville town hall. It was Marshall who
orchestrated the move of the building from its Riverside location
to its present site on Devonshire Road (location of the Galerie
that different businesses are coming in (to Walkerville), its
getting better," says Bakhos Saad, owner of the old Nessels
Department Store Building at 1706-1748 Wyandotte. Saad purchased
the building in 1988, then witnessed the exodus of three banks and
a major pharmacy from Walkerville. He certainly enjoys the current
Walkerville business climate, and figures he has a good mix of tenants
for his four second-floor apartments, and for the retail space which
features the Black Opal, The Wood Doctor, his own Lebanese Meat
Market, and a new tenant, (possibly a yoga instructor), who will
take over a newly-converted storage area.
Doctor at 1748 Wyandotte St. E. is not a newcomer to Walkerville,
but the store that specializes in quality solid wood furniture has
a new or rather an old look. "Weve gone
right back to the original," says Ty Coon, who owns the business
with wife Valerie Coon. Both grew up in Walkerville, and Ty Coon
remembers well his shopping excursions with his mother to the very
building that holds his business now, only then it was Nessels
Department Store. The original tin ceiling and brick walls are now
back, along with the large passageways between what were the different
sections of the store.
unit had different clothing in it," recalls Ty. Now the units
carry interesting lines of furniture, from Mexican rustic and Frontier
Furniture (made from recycled teak farm equipment) to colonial and
Doctor is bringing an expanding customer base to Walkerville, including
a significant number of American buyers. Valerie is looking forward
to the Christmas season, when customers will be able to browse through
the Wood Doctors collection of unique gifts from 40 different
companies from around the world, and do some shopping at the other
area gift shops. "Were glad to see everyone coming in,"
moving to Walkerville three years ago, the owners of The Walkerville
Times felt that this community has been in dire need of a proper
and Ann Marie Da-Re feel the same way, and will soon launch Platos
Blend in the space recently occupied by Icon for The Home on Wyandotte.
Walkerville? "Its charming, historical and has sense
of permanence to it unlike many of the plazas and strip malls
we looked at," says Anne-Marie Da-Re, a partner in this venture.
Blend has been germinating as a concept for 15 years. The pair,
along with partner Frank Incitti, plan to also offer fresh sandwiches,
salads, soups, pastries, muffins and baked breads all made
Blend will also be the first Windsor coffee house to wear the "Fair
Trade" label. This symbol guarantees that a percentage of all
monies from coffee sales is returned to the growers at the grassroots
level, many of whom live in impoverished nations such as Yemen,
Brazil and Columbia.
wanted to be commercially successful, but felt that we had to make
a contribution at the societal level as well," says Anne-Marie.
store has been morphed into a cafe, with new flooring, walls, bathrooms,
kitchen and preparation area, serving counters and seating for thirty.
for the opening of Platos Blend at the end of June.
Tangled Garden is the latest in the growing number of properties
owned by Chris Hanson. He purchased the building that housed Kays
Flair at 1520 Wyandotte St. E. last year after a search for a new
think that the Walkerville area is really growing," says Hanson.
"Its really going to take off." He placed a For
Lease sign in the window of the store area and started the clean
tore out 12 bins of debris." The sign caught the attention
of Joseph LaPointe and John Mailloux, owners of the Tangled Garden,
which features "contemporary as well as classic things for
moved to Walkerville from their previous store location on Ottawa
Street last September. Although they find there is not as much walk-in
traffic as they enjoyed on Ottawa Street, the people who do stop
in are "better buyers," said LaPointe.
Mailloux have already torn down a wall to expand their retail space
to the back of the store, and are planning to open up a courtyard
area in the back soon.
Walkerville Professional Building
known as the ONeill Bernhardt Building at 1645 Wyandotte St.
E., this is one of the areas more recent grand-scale renovation
projects. Dan Soleski, one of the buildings five owners, had
no hesitation investing in the area.
has a unique flavour in the city, a really good urban fabric, and
such a good mix of business and residential a fine example
of good urban planning."
was completed in late May, and already the new tenants are moved
in, one on each of the buildings three floors.
for the Home is on the main floor, while Mindbox, a marketing company,
and Archon Architect Inc., where Soleski is an intern architect,
are on the second and third.
owner Michael Richardson chose Walkerville for his "urban lifestyle
home store" to become part of this resurgent community, as
opposed to the much less appealing environment of a plaza or strip
Morgan Precision Tool moved out of its long-standing location at
the corner of Chilver and Wyandotte, it appeared as though another
large building in Walkerville would go wanting for an owner.
English and Paul Leite, who owned SOHO Gourmet Foods across the
street, saw an opportunity. They purchased the run-down building,
and a major renovation has ensued. The Morgan offices have been
gutted and much of the charm has been restored, including refinished
hardwood floors, the removal of walls and ceiling tiles to reveal
were once cramped offices is now an open breezy space filled with
Windsors most extensive line of specialty gourmet foods, as
well as distinctive gifts and home accessories. Many of their products,
such as the Chai Tea, Booby Flay Sauces and Ming Tsai products can
only be purchased at SOHO in this market.
entrepreneurs have also renovated three of the four apartments above
their shop, including a spectacular 1,500-square-foot loft that
would fit on the cover a designer magazine.
According to English: "Walkerville has an eclectic mix of food,
shopping, and galleries its really SOHO north! (SOHO
New York Citys bohemian neighbourhood)." SOHO remains
a passion for the pair, as they also have full-time jobs as a real
estate agent and as a human resource manager.
scouting out locations for his latest venture, former Chanosos
and Fillmore East founder Paul Chanko acted on a tip from the Walkerville
Times managing editor about the new SOHO Building. Some readers
may remember this location as the site of The Lustre Cafe, one of
Walkervilles most elegant restaurants that operated in the
1930s and 1940s.
immediately fell in love with Walkerville and the Soho Building
site, and has begun extensive renovations to build KUSH, Windsors
put, Chanko is bringing a European social concept to Walkerville:
"We will cater to an audience that wants to sip small glasses
of wine and enjoy plates of appetizers including raw oysters,
Tapas (Spanish treats), antipastos, cheese plates, spreads including
tapanades and pestos and much more."
has leased the two large east end units, and is in the midst transforming
the space. Old carpeting has been removed to reveal oak hardwood
flooring, brick walls have been exposed, and a long wooden bar will
soon be constructed. Seating areas in the two rooms will accommodate
up to 75 clients.
says Walkerville is the ideal location for his new venture. "Unlike
downtown, this area is unsaturated. I guess I just got sick and
tired of all the kiddies running around. Kush will be appealing
to an older more mature crowd that appreciates good food."
for Kush to open sometime in September.
Walkervilles most distinctive landmarks, the alabaster Bank
of Montreal on the corner of Chilver and Wyandotte, has been finally
been sold. Vacant for the past several years, the new owners, Rob
Sarra and Dave Ruxton, who also own The Complex Building in Olde
Walkerville (world headquarters of The Walkerville Times!), say
the bank will be converted into a Spa/Hair Salon called Tdye
Jeff Wood plans to send about $30,000 to renovate and build his
spa, while the rundown yet potentially magnificent upper managers
suite will be restored to its original splendour.
are a million tales in the city and we have presented a few
here. Others have also played a part in this resurgence; you may
have read about them in past editions or will in the near future.
Kildare House brought an authentic Celtic pub to the district, and
has been an overwhelming success. Kevin and Leslie Donald of Posteroptics
were one of the earliest of the "new entrepreneurs" to
appreciate Walkervilles charms and commercial potential; their
framing gallery has been meticulously restored.
old Town Hall was saved from the wreckers ball, has been completely
renovated and is now Galerie DArt. Andy Jun and Maurizio Tiberia
renovated the old Golden Gate Restaurant and launched Digital Design.
Childrens Aid Society has taken a two year lease on the old
Deloitte Touche building while a new complex is built. Phil Laforest
remodelled the old TD Bank for his Walkerville Chapel at the corner
of Wyandotte and Lincoln. And an old clothing factory on Kildare
and Assumption has just been sold we await developments there.
Walkerville renaissance has only just begun!