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Wednesday December 4th, 2013

Posted at 3:08pm

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Historic Our Lady of the Rosary Church, at the gateway to Ford City on Riverside Drive, has been sold to a private developer who plans to turn the building into an event centre.

Larry Horowitz, best known for his role at the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association, is purchasing the building from the Roman Catholic Diocese of London for one dollar.

Horowitz, accompanied by the executive director of Drouillard Place, representatives from the Diocese and community stakeholders made the announcement at a press conference, Wednesday afternoon.

Water’s Edge Event Centre will become an event venue with a focus on elegant weddings, corporate gatherings, social events, non-profit galas, bridal receptions, wine tastings, business dinners, charity balls, holiday parties, reunions and more.

Horowitz called making the purchase a “huge honour”, remarking that nearby Ford City had been forgotten too long and that the “jewel” of a building would help to restore the “gateway” to historic Drouillard Road.

The church, a Romanesque-style brick and stone building, was built in 1908 and closed 99 years later in 2007. In the early half of the 20th century, the church was rumoured to have been used for its lights as a “beacon” on shore towards which rum runners — including Al Capone — steered their ships.

Developers say the new venue is anticipated to create upwards of 100 jobs, the bell towers may be turned into museum space and the overall concept will “change the look and feel while preserving historic architecture”.

Horowitz expects restoration — some of which has already begun — to cost in the area of $2-3 million, over several years, and community partners such as the City of Windsor will be asked to help.

Design concepts for the interior include the replacement of pews with tables, utilization of the altar as a stage and using the church’s interior lights as chandeliers for the facility.

Horowitz says he also hopes the area in front of the building along the river’s edge, which is presently owned by Ford Motor Company, will one day become part of Windsor’s riverfront trail.

The Water’s Edge Event Centre is expected to be open for its first events in April or May 2014.

To see conceptual drawings of the revamped interior, visit their website.

Dave Savel, Episcopal Director of Administrative Services for the Diocese of London; Larry Horwitz, Horwitz Holdings; Marina Clemens, Executive Director of Drouillard Place and Fr. Chris Gevaert, pastor of Most Precious Blood announce the future for the building.

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