You won’t find many Toronto developers purchasing buildings in Blandford-Blenheim Township, but that’s just what Gianfranco and Albert Amendola from iProRealty have done in Plattsville. The brothers opened a general contracting company about 15 years ago and most of their business is building and renovating properties.
An old building at 66 Albert Street, or Oxford Road 8, at Douro Street was purchased by the pair after sitting empty for around 15 years. Gianfranco said there is a long history behind the it. “Through my research, it appears it was built in 1780 but may have been in the early 1800s. It’s hard to say what the exact year of construction is.” The exact history of the building may be up for some debate, but it was built by Richard Jones who operated the Jones House hotel. The next two owners also ran hotels before it was Plattsville’s post office and then a furniture and antique store. “As far as I know most recently the second and third floors were last used as a rooming house rented to people for short term stays. When we bought it, it was in shambles. Renovations appear to have been started on the property but work that was done was not good and done without permits.”
He added he’s always looking for opportunities to invest in undervalued properties. “This one fell on our radar, so we went to have a look at it, and we thought it had potential. We picked it up through a power of sale, so it worked out well on the purchasing side. We began the renovations, and it ended up costing us over $1 million to complete it. The end result was three commercial units on the main floor and four residential units, two on the second floor and two on the third floor.”
To date, three of the four apartments are occupied along with one commercial unit. Gianfranco said he normally fixes up properties and sells them, but he decided to hang on to this one, at least for now. “It has a lot of history, it’s a nice building. It’s a little far away for us, but I am still thinking about keeping it, renting it out, and letting it be.” He added the community has been very warm and welcoming. “We’ve met a lot of people and most of the tenants I do have are from Plattsville. While we were doing our renovations, many people who would drop in. We’ve had a lot of conversations and heard a lot of stories. The neighbours are great, and everything is good.”
Gianfranco said he had no idea the building was once a CIBC bank and as a result came with an old and very heavy safe. “I was hoping to sell it, but I had no takers. We ended up cutting it into pieces and selling it for scrap metal.” Part of the building’s charm was the way it was built with a river rock foundation along with massive 14-foot by 14-foot wood trusses. “It’s really a beautiful piece of architecture. They don’t build them like that anymore,” he added.
While the building’s transformation was a tremendous amount of work, Gianfranco said the level of cooperation from local governments made the process of redeveloping a smooth and enjoyable one. “Everybody was pretty keen on the idea of restoring it. Oxford County and Blandford-Blenheim Township were great to work with. We did everything according to specifications and code and they were right there to work with us, and it was great working with them.” Gianfranco added they purchased as many building supplies as they could from the Home Hardware across the street during construction.