'It's incredible': Tecumseh BIA booming with more investment to come

Melissa Ventura of the Frank Brewing Co., stands in front of their taco truck in their beer garden just added this year. (Dale Molnar/CBC News - image credit)
Melissa Ventura of the Frank Brewing Co., stands in front of their taco truck in their beer garden just added this year. (Dale Molnar/CBC News - image credit)

The coordinator of the Tecumseh BIA says she feels like a real estate agent.

Nary a day goes by that Denise Pelaccia isn't taking phone calls from business people wanting to know what properties are available for them to launch businesses or other projects in the town.

"It's incredible," said Pelaccia.

"In addition to all the new businesses that are coming to our area, we also have new apartment buildings, new condo buildings, new houses being built and we also have some beautification projects going in the downtown core," added Pelaccia, referring to two new murals planned for buildings along Tecumseh Road East near Lesperance Road.

The investment boom stems from a Community Improvement Plan (CIP) initiative the town embarked upon about five to seven years ago. It has brought more than a dozen new shops, restaurants and a micro-brewery, as well as high-rise housing developments to Tecumseh Road East between Banwell Road and Manning Road.

Dale Molnar/CBC
Dale Molnar/CBC

Tecumseh mayor Gary McNamara said more business is on the way.

"We started out with a microbrewery and then there's roughly about five condominium developments that are being built. There's at least three more that are in the books," said McNamara.

He said about $100 million has been invested so far, with the town planning a $40 million streetscaping project that will bring back on-street parking, bury overhead service lines and reduce traffic.

"We want to make it more walkable ... and use active transportation in the area," he said.

Dale Molnar/CBC
Dale Molnar/CBC

'It was just the right time'

McNamara said the CIP came with development grants that worked as incentives.

"There were grants totalling anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 up to and including $100,000, depending on what the project was and what their intentions were. And it really has given them that incentive to 'let's go and do it'," said McNamara.

George Marar and his partner just opened the new Bourbon Tap and Grill in March. They totally transformed the former Torino restaurant into a massive bar, restaurant and lounge with live music and billiard tables.

"It was a no-brainer for us. We saw the development happening around us and we always were looking forward to getting into Tecumseh when we had the proper opportunity. It was just the right time, I guess the right place. We'd go big or go home," said Marar.

Dale Molnar/CBC
Dale Molnar/CBC

Just across the road, the Frank Brewing Co. brew pub opened up about seven years ago, and has seen the new businesses and high-rise buildings sprout up.

"I think having these new businesses in the area is certainly a positive thing. It creates a lot of new, exciting things in the area, gets people out, gets people excited to go out, and we're happy to be a part of it," said Melissa Ventura, office manager.

Pelaccia said BIA membership has grown from 500 to 600 in the past two years.

It's expected the planned transformation of the downtown will come to full fruition five to seven years from now.