Windsors Retail space
By Nate Hinckley
The executive director of Windsor’s downtown business improvement association says high hydro rates may be a leading cause of vacant retail space in downtown Windsor.
Small businesses are open during regular business hours and have to pay on-peak rates for electricity that are more than twice as much as off-peak rates. Those on-peak rates have climbed 81 per cent to 18 cents per kilowatt-hour since November 2010, according to the Ontario Energy Board.
“There are a number of factors, hydro especially is a huge factor, ”said Debi Croucher. “If you own a very large facility, the issue is that these properties are so large they aren’t viable for the downtown.”
Windsor’s downtown retail spaces are turning into vacant storefronts that can easily be seen around the downtown core. With buildings standing vacant, some store owners say they are worried it may attract break-ins around nearby businesses. The number of empty storefronts is estimated to be close to 50 and “for lease” signs are on every block.
Vacancy rebates are available for commercial and industrial buildings under the Municipal Act section 364 and Ontario Regulation 325/01.
In Category 1, a whole commercial or industrial building will be eligible for a rebate if the entire building was unused for at least 90 consecutive days.
In Category 2, a suite or unit in a commercial building will be eligible for a rebate if it was unused and physically separate, or clearly delineated, from the used portions of the building for at least 90 consecutive days.
Some landlords allow their buildings to remain vacant because it allows them to be eligible for a tax rebate. Vacant business properties in downtown Windsor received nearly $236,000 in property tax rebates in 2015.
A portion of an industrial building would be eligible for a rebate if it was unused, physically separated, or clearly delineated, from the used portions for the building.
A building or portion of a building will not be eligible for a rebate if it is used for commercial or industrial activity on a seasonal basis, during the period of vacancy in which it was subject to a lease.
Pushers Co. has been located in Windsor’s downtown for two years. Ali Ahmed, owner and chief executive officer, said he is very optimistic about the future of the downtown.
“Retail space is very important to the downtown area,” said Ahmed. “We started out here two years ago. It was a little slow but it’s starting to pick up.”
Pushers sells many different items including shirts, hats and fashionable shoes. It also houses a barber shop on the upper level. Pushers has expanded in their two years from selling clothing items to offering haircuts, food and a recording studio
Although Pushers is doing well, the store is surrounded by empty buildings with “for lease” signs on them.