Retail space reverted to parking spots in Pelissier parking garage

Retailers are getting the boot from Pelissier parking garage to make room for more parking, ending an 11-year battle.
Pelissier parking garage will no longer have retail space. (CBC)

After 11 years of debates, Windsor's city council voted Monday night to revert the retail space on the lower level of the Pelissier Street parking garage to more parking.

Current tenants, including the Windsor Pride Community Centre and Youssef's Hair Boutique and the Canada South Festival Network, have six months to move out.

Larry Horwitz, with the Downtown BIA, has been fighting to keep retail space in the parking garage since 2005. Council's vote ends a fight that has become a major passion for Horwitz.

"I'm extremely emotional right now," said Horwitz, while pulling out a prepared statement to read to the media before leaving the building.

"I'm extremely disappointed and I've lost confidence in this council," he said. "It is an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars … to pay for parking that is not needed, and there is no report to prove the demand," said Horwitz.

During a marathon meeting that lasted for nearly five hours, councillors heard from urban planners, business owners, commercial real estate agents and Pelissier street tenants.

All of the presentations offered expert advice and reasons for keeping retail in the parking garage, but it wasn't enough to sway the votes.

"It has proven over 11 years that there just isn't the demand there," said Mayor Drew Dilkens who voted in favour of more parking spaces.

"Taxpayers are looking for us to make the right decision with their money," he said.

Whether the space continued to be used for retail or it houses parking, the cost is still around $500,000. It would, however, cost more to maintain retail space over time.

Built in 1979, the Pelissier parking garage has 348 parking spots. The new addition will add 51.