Finance committee greenlights $2.9M tax break for new Porsche dealership
OTTAWA -- The City of Ottawa's finance and economic development committee (FEDCo) has given the green light to a $2.9 million grant to build a new "world class" Porsche dealership at the corner of Montreal Road and St. Laurent Boulevard.
The project by Mrak Holdings Inc., a.k.a. Mark Motors of Ottawa, would be built at 458 Montreal Rd., currently the site of an Audi dealership, while an existing Porsche dealership stands just down the street at 611 Montreal Rd.
Mark Motors owner Michael Mrak said the site has sentimental value to his family.
"We always have our roots in the east end. My father started his business on the corner of Montreal Road and St. Laurent Boulevard back in 1958," he told the committee.
Mark Motors expects to double the staff of the current dealership once the new one is complete.
The Community Improvement Plan Grant would be worth no more than $2,910,171 in installments over ten years, and would be contingent on the development of the project. If no development proceeds, no grant would be paid. The city expects to cover the grant with a major increase in property taxes at the site—from $25,627 per year to $355,619 per year—creating an estimated net gain for the city of $970,057, according to a presentation before the committee.
Several delegations who spoke to the committee opposed the project, arguing that it would not be the right fit for the area or that a luxury car dealership is not the kind of place that would see regular repeat business.
Some Vanier residents who spoke to CTV News Ottawa say they are not opposed to having a luxury car dealership in the area but question the use of a nearly three million dollar grant to help build it.
"It may generate a bit of employment but I think the city should spend the money more wisely," said Henri Diotte, who has lived in Vanier for 37 years. "Look at our streets. And they are going to get a grant? I have a problem with that."
Speaking to reporters after the FEDCo meeting, Mayor Jim Watson called the project an investment in the community.
"This is not a grant in the traditional sense where something is given and nothing is returned," Watson said. "This is an investment to act as a magnet to attract business to an economically challenged neighbourhood."
Watson pointed to the significant increase in property taxes at the site as a net gain for city coffers.
The chair of the Quartier Vanier BIA, Mark Kaluski, said the new dealership would be part of a broader revitalization of Montreal Road and the surrounding area.
"The goals of the (Community Improvement Plan) are to help spark redevelopment of a corridor that needs help and this meets those goals. Mark Motors is very much a local business," he said.
City council must still approve the grant. Council's next meeting is on May 26.
--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Leah Larocque.