The proposed townhouse development on St Davids road will not turn into student housing – nor is it a ‘cookie cutter’ project set up to be a money-making machine.
That is the message from local businessman Anthony DiFruscia who has applied to develop the land, which has resulted in some backlash from locals.
He told Thorold News he understands the concerns, but wanted to set the record straight on what he is hoping to do.
“For me it is about legacy and leaving something behind that my children and grandchildren can say that I had a part in,” said DiFruscia in an interview.
“I am not a developer. This is my first time doing something like this.”
He currently lives in a house just next door to the vacant land where, if council approves, 15 residential townhouse bungalows will arise, creating a miniature neighbourhood along the road.
DiFruscia said the project is catering to people 55-60+, who are looking to live smaller, without having to leave the city.
“It is going to give people like myself a great place to downsize with a real community feel. I have nothing against students, but I am not building a Brock community. My vision is to eventually be in one of them.”
In fact, DiFruscia said, he bought the land years back in the wake of a potential planned student neighbourhood brought forward by a Toronto-based developer.
He also added he is highly concerned with making the project a scenic addition to the currently empty property.
“These houses will be beautiful, and something that Thorold has not seen before. I live there myself, and I don’t want to decimate the value of my property. This is all about improvement.”
A concern brought forward by critics of the project is the planned demolition of an old stone house on the property, commonly called ‘John Brown House’.
The structure is on a city list of potential heritage properties in Thorold.
DiFruscia said the home has undergone numerous modifications of the years that has could have altered the supposed historical accuracy of the building by the previous owners.
“It was kept up on a beer budget with a lot of patchwork done on it. It is in rough shape and hard to repurpose, but I welcome the Heritage Committee to take a look at it.”
There are still numerous legal hoops to go through before the shovel can go in the ground.
A public hearing on the development is planned for July 7, after which city staff will make a recommendcation to council on the future of the project.
DiFruscia said he is following the process by the book, and has not applied for any variances from the city.
“I am born and raised in Thorold with no intention of leaving. I make my paycheck elsewhere. This is not about money. To me it is about family legacy and something that will bring in taxes to the city,” said DiFruscia.