GRIMSBY — The town’s west end has been a lightning rod of controversy, but on Wednesday evening a local developer and town officials showed what’s possible when development is done right.
Homes by DeSantis showed off its swanky new AquabBlu build just off Casablanca Boulevard near Lake Ontario, giving invited guests tours of the five-story, 120-unit building that is already virtually completely sold. This phase of the development is basically complete two years after beginning construction, and now president Gabriel DeSantis and his crew will be turning their attention to the six- and 10-storey AquaZul build next door.
“It’s changed the landscape of Grimsby,” said Mayor Bob Bentley to the small crowd gathered in the front lobby.
Bentley recalled discussions as far back as 2009 as town politicians and staff grappled with provincial mandates calling for higher densities within Grimsby.
“We were trying to figure out what it would look like. Where are we going to put this higher density?” he said.
With limited options, Grimsby chose the west end. From the start, Bentley said Homes by DeSantis set a sterling example.
“This development affected others, just by the quality of it,” he said. “It’s the showcase on the highway.”
The development community has agreed. It received the 2016 best mid-rise building in Ontario award from the Ontario Home Builders Association, and other accolades from local home builders associations in the Hamilton-Niagara region.
“We enjoy the challenge and try to do our best every day,” said DeSantis. “Two years later and this masterpiece is complete.”
At the event Homes by DeSantis also unveiled a statue by Ontario artists Lynn Christine Kelly and Xiaojing Yan, which the company commissioned to have placed by the entry roundabout. DeSantis — with his father Peter, and son Christian at his side — donated $90,000 for continued work on the public access waterfront trail along Lake Ontario. The money will be used for a nearby bridge for the trail.
The AquaZul build will include 368 units, and is nearly sold out already. The company hopes to start construction in early 2018.
by Luke Edwards
Luke Edwards is a reporter for the Grimsby Lincoln News and editor for Niagara Farmers’ Monthly. His column appears alternate weeks in The News’ Tuesday edition. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.