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Resolution at hand for former Holmes Foundry site

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Point Edward council is poised to get some good news on the former Holmes Foundry lands now that the vexing ownership question has apparently been resolved.

“I feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Mayor Bev Hand. “We’re hopeful that we’re finally getting somewhere.”

Once the ownership is clear, there’s some indication the 17-acre site will be sold for redevelopment, said Point Edward’s CAO Jim Burns.

He has fielded a number of calls from realtors with interested clients over the past few months, said Hand. “They’re asking about services on the property and other questions that indicate interest in it.”

It’s been nearly 30 years since Chrysler shut down its foundry at a high profile location bounded by Front Street, Exmouth Street, Christina Street and Highway 402.

After a $7-million environmental cleanup, the property was sold to a local entity called The D’Andrea Group that involved 27 shareholders and real estate developer John D’Andrea.

A subsequent sale to a numbered company representing the Chippewas of the Thames in 1999 resulted in a long legal battle over who was the rightful owner of the land. Ultimately, D’Andrea was convicted of fraud and sentenced to two years less a day in jail.

Civil action was started by shareholders in the D’Andrea Group to recover his 50% share in the numbered company. The case dragged on for years before going to trial in September.

According to Windsor lawyer Craig Allen, who represents D’Andrea Group Inc., an out-of-court settlement has been reached with the stipulation that all parties must keep it confidential.

“Some loose ends that are not contentious are now being finalized by the courts,” Allen told The Journal. “They pertain to implementation.”

Allen said he anticipates the court to finalize the details shortly, possibly within days.

“There will be no disclosure from any of the parties but, at some point, there will be a public record,” he said.

The foundry property is one of the last large tracts available for development and is strategically located near the Blue Water Bridge.

With the legal debate over ownership stalling activity, the vacant building and lands have fallen into decay. No taxes have been paid for several years although the amount of arrears has not been made public.

Last year, the village took steps to determine if hazardous materials remain at the site, said Burns.

“Tests done by the village indicated the building does not have a lot of hazardous material, but I’m sure no developer will go forward without more environmental assessments.”

In 2007, the council of the day approved installation of new underground lines while the property was dug up for highway ramp construction, said Burns.

“The village spent considerable money 10 years ago and made that decision because council was looking to future development of the property,” he said. “It was a brilliant move.

“We believe it’s just a matter of time before we hear something.”

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