April 23, 2019
by Nathaniel Johnson, The Welland Tribune
A game room, theatre, large dining room, bistro, beauty parlour and spa are some of the amenities that will be in a new five-storey, 130-unit building geared toward seniors under construction in Welland.
Yehuda Gestetner, president of PlazaComm, says the seniors home — to be called The Grand Canal Retirement Residence — should be ready for residents sometime in late 2020 or early 2021.
Once complete, it will sit along the east bank of the Welland Recreational Canal and just south of Welland Community Wellness Complex.
It will connect to the complex used mainly by Welland’s seniors, says Gestetner.
“It made sense,” he says, adding the company and city swapped land to align the building along the waterway.
The location was chosen not only for the wellness complex connection but for being in the city’s Health and Wellness Cluster community improvement plan area. Being in the area allowed the company to apply for grants and incentives to help with the project.
“The City of Welland has been most accommodating. They are amazing people to work with. We’ve developed a great relationship with the city’s economic development department,” says Gestetner.
Welland was also chosen because PlazaComm and parent company PlazaCorp are focusing more outside the Greater Toronto Area.
“We’re engaged in a number of communities. Welland is definitely on the uptick … and there’s a need for housing in the city.”
He says with the land swap, residents in the new home will have one- or two-bedroom suites facing the waterway, balconies overlooking the former canal and an outdoor patio area facing the waterway.
Residents will be able to watch as the city develops the waterway across from them at the Lincoln Street Docks. A new boathouse for canal/kayak rentals will be built, additional benches and other amenities will be added, and the area will be home to a future park. That park is a joint project between the city and Rotary Club of Welland as part of the club’s legacy project.
“This is going to be a very high-quality building. PlazaCorp builds the best, we don’t cut corners,” Gestetner says, adding the company has won satisfaction awards as a testament to its customer service. “It’s going to be a beautiful project.”
Gestetner says the company isn’t just coming into Welland putting up a building and leaving.
A local general contractor and local trades are being used on the job site as a way to give back to the community.
Even with a short delay on the project, Gestetner says there’s been tremendous interest early on from people looking for information on the project and how to apply. A website has been set up at grandcanal.ca with a phone number for people to call.
The short delay in the project was when the company stopped work to reconvene and determine how to deal with contamination issues on the property, once home to industry.
“We knew in advance it had contamination issues … we did our due diligence. Did we know the extent of it? No. As developers, we’re surprised sometimes.”
Gestetner says more remediation work was needed on the site, which can be seen from Lincoln and King streets.
“There was never a time we thought about pulling out of the project,” he says.