The former Don Cherry's restaurant at 531 Pelissier is seen on May 14, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

New Life Likely For Former Sports Bar

A long-vacant landmark in downtown Windsor is a step closer to being revived.

Windsor City Council’s Planning, Heritage and Economic Development Committee agreed Monday night to recommend that the owners of 531 Pelissier St. receive grants and tax rebates to renovate the property. The $528,244 grant will help turn the former Don Cherry’s sports bar and restaurant into a retail and residential complex.

The plan is to rebuild the ground floor of the building into commercial and retail space and to add three more floors for apartments.

The grant for Don Cherry’s is one of three put before the committee Monday night, spurred by the city’s Community Improvement Plan (CIP) program for the downtown area.

The recommendation is a big step forward for architect Philip Fernandes, whose firm drew up the preliminary design for the property.

“I think it’s a fantastic development, and it’s right on board with the CIP program and what they’re trying to develop here,” says Fernandes. “It got our interest and we’re happy to be a part of the process.”

The actual work is being handled by the construction firm BK Cornerstone. Owner Ben Klundert also credits the CIP program.

“The incentives in place made it a viable project for ourselves, and we’re excited about it,” says Klundert.

Don Cherry’s had been a popular night spot in the downtown area through the 1990s and 2000s, but its fortunes declined when crime became a problem in the area. Four shootings occurred within the bar’s shadow by 2007, with two of them being fatal. The bar was sold to another operator before it closed completely in 2009.

The other two projects for which recommendations were approved on Monday were facade improvements at the former Radisson Hotel on Riverside Dr. W for $3.4-million, and a $1.8-million grant request for a 16-story apartment building on Victoria Ave. and Park St. W.

All three projects are subject to final approval by Windsor City Council. If council approves all three, the total development cost of the projects will be $52.1-million.