'It's hurting my business': Westcourt Place commercial tenants struggling with displacement

More than 200 residential tenants who lived at Westcourt Place are out of their homes, but they aren't the only ones affected by the Nov. 12 fire in the downtown Windsor highrise. 

There are 30 commercial clients displaced as well, including lawyer Paul Esco, a criminal defence lawyer whose office was on the lower floors of the Westcourt building. 

"It's hard without an office," said Esco. "It's absolutely horrible ... we're getting the clients in but it's not comfortable."

Esco isn't sure if being displaced is scaring away new clients — but he's had a number of people think he's out of business. 

"It's hurting my business because it's hard to sit down and do the work properly," said Esco. "I'm slowly going to get used to it, but it's very hard at the moment."

Like residential tenants, commercial tenants aren't expected to pay rent for the time they're not permitted to be in the building. 

"I'd like to go back to Westcourt if it gets done," said Esco. "If not I'll have to go somewhere else. We just renovated our office before this happened."

Esco said he was allowed in right after the fire to get immediate paper work. At that time, he said firefighters asked him to leave the doors open to let it air out — and his files were rummaged through. Nothing was taken. 

Since then, Esco said his assistant has been back in the building a few times to collect more documents, but he'll need to consider a full move soon.