Where others see challenges, Farhi Holdings Corporation sees opportunity.
Founded in 1988, the London, Ontario based real estate development company has a long track record of purchasing underperforming properties and stewarding a successful turnaround.
The company currently owns and manages more than 4 million square feet of office, retail, industrial and residential space in more than a dozen communities throughout Ontario, as well as two historic inns: Ingersoll’s Elm Hurst Inn & Spa and the Idlewyld Inn & Spa in London’s Old South neighbourhood.
FHC has been investing in Windsor since 2004, when founder Shmuel Farhi bought the Lear Seating factory and surrounding 110 acres of land.
The factory is long gone – a victim of the 2008 economic crash – but the cityowned 40-acre WFCU Centre on part of the site is now home to the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. The remaining land is ripe for redevelopment, says Farhi, who envisions a vibrant commercial hub and possible future residential development.
“Windsor has done a great job of transforming itself from Canada’s automobile capital to a more diverse economy,” says Farhi. “It’s in a very unique location across from Detroit and the huge US market, and it has an open-minded city leadership working hard to get the city moving forward.”
In 2010, FHC turned its attention to downtown Windsor with the acquisition of a 740-space parking garage on Pitt Street, as well as two half-acre waterfront sites on Riverside Drive.
In 2012, the company purchased another riverfront property, the largelyvacant City Centre Mall. “We are currently renovating the space to provide first class office accommodation,” Farhi says.
The following year, FHC partnered with Hamilton’s Vrancor Group Inc. to buy the Windsor Riverside Inn and Hilton Windsor hotels. The 305-room Hilton has since been renovated and rebranded as the Best Western Plus Waterfront Hotel, one of the chain’s flagship operations, while the Riverside is undergoing a complete renovation prior to the announcement of a new tenant.
The two companies recently expanded their hospitality holdings with the purchase of Windsor’s downtown Travelodge Hotel, which is being renovated and rebranded as a Holiday Inn Express.
“Since 2007, we have seen a quarterbillion dollars’ worth of investments made around our holdings in downtown Windsor,” Farhi notes. These include the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre, as well as the downtown campuses of the University of Windsor and St. Clair College, which are already bringing thousands of students and faculty members to the core each day.
“We have been patiently waiting for the downtown to turn around, and that’s finally happening,” says Farhi, whose company currently employs more than 300 people in Windsor. “The influx of post-secondary students is making a huge positive impact, and we believe it will only continue to grow.”
With an eye on the future, FHC recently acquired 18-acres on County Road 42, directly across from the site of Windsor’s new mega-hospital, scheduled to open within eight to ten years. Farhi says his land will provide an ideal location for the commercial, office, and residential development needed to support the state-of-the-art regional medical facility. “We are long-term investors,” says Farhi.
“We believe in Windsor and its future, and see a bright opportunity ahead to grow and prosper as part of the Windsor business community.” To learn more about Farhi Holdings Corporation visit www.fhc.ca