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Property developer Italo Ferrari target of multiple lawsuits

Legal woes dog businessman connected to former St. Veronica’s school, General Hospital site
09-19-2022-PropertyOwnersInTheHotSeatAfterStVeronicasFire-AF-01
Fire crews douse the flames of a late-night fire at the former St. Veronica's elementary school on Friday Sept. 16.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the old St. Veronica’s school property is owned by a company controlled by Italo Ferrari and Mike Anobile. In fact, the St. Veronica’s property is owned by 2749978 Ontario Inc., a company that lists Ferrari as Vice President. Mr. Anobile is not a director or officer for the company and public records do not indicate he has any control of the company. 

Another company owned by Anobile, Berkshire Enterprises Ltd., is the lender on a $1.85-million mortgage registered on the former St. Veronica’s property. A second mortgage, for $400,000, lists the guarantors as Ferrari and Anobile.

The previous version of the article also incorrectly indicated that the Doctor’s Building was “one” of Mr. Ferrari’s properties. In fact, the Doctor’s Building is owned by a numbered company that lists Anobile as its sole director.

This article has also been revised to include the fact that land registry documents indicate a $1.5-million mortgage in relation to the General Hospital site was discharged in December 2021. A lawsuit commenced in September 2021, prior to the discharge of the mortgage, alleged that certain parties failed to pay the mortgage.

It’s been quite a rough go for Italo Ferrari in Sault Ste. Marie these days. 

fire broke out at the former site of St. Veronica's elementary school, resulting in even more damage to the already dilapidated vacant building in the city’s west end.  

Land registry records show that a numbered company (2749978 Ontario Inc.) purchased the school site for $100,000 in April 2020 from Northern Advancement Capital Inc., which originally purchased it from the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board in 2015. Ferrari is listed as Vice President of the numbered company.

A sign currently posted outside the former elementary school on East Balfour Street suggests plans for "Balfour Residences."

In July 2021, the numbered company that owns the old school took out a $1.85-million mortgage on the property from Berkshire Enterprises Inc., an asset management company owned by Mike Anobile. About eight months later, in March 2022, the owner took out another mortgage, this one for $400,000 from M Plus McKerlie Holdings Inc. The guarantors on the mortgage are Ferrari and Anobile.

Anobile is president of two different companies that own portions of the old General and Plummer Hospital sites, which were purchased in 2019 with plans to redevelop the property into waterfront condominiums and a long-term care facility. Ferrari is the vice-president of one of those companies — Leisure Meadows Community Living Inc. — and has been the public face of the redevelopment plan.

Court documents obtained by SooToday show that a mortgage provider on the vacant hospital properties took the owners to court last year, alleging non-payment on a $1.5-million mortgage.

Filed in September 2021, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit were 2156423 Alberta ULC and Brysonwood Construction Inc. The defendants were Anobile, a numbered company directed by Anobile (166721 Ontario Inc.), Berkshire Enterprises, and Leisure Meadows Community Living Inc. 

The mortgage was due to be paid off in July 2021. Land registry records records indicate the mortgage was discharged in December 2021, three months after the lawsuit was filed.

Earlier this year, Ferrari told SooToday that he planned to convert the General Hospital site into a long-term care facility and retrofit 82 apartments in the five-storey Plummer renal unit.

An additional 65 townhouses are planned for the parking lot of the former hospital, he said.

“We are applying for a seniors facility for the hospital, so we are dealing with the government,” Ferrari said at the time. “For the other ones we are going through the logistics through the city for townhouses. We are working on the file, but it is very slow.”

The General Hospital site and Doctor’s Building are currently listed by Westroy Assets Management Inc. as a potential long-term care facility and a wellness centre for seniors. The president and secretary of Westroy Properties Inc. is Mike Anobile.

The vacant hospital site has been a source of regular complaints from neighbouring residents. Sault Ste. Marie Police Service reported 113 calls for service at the former General Hospital between 2017 and 2021. Three people were charged with various offences during that time period.  

If there wasn’t already enough heat on Ferrari, he’s also the target of two other lawsuits launched over the past two years. 

In October 2020, Ferrari attempted to have a case against him and one of his companies, Core Life Inc., tossed out of court in Manitoba, arguing that the province lacked jurisdiction.

As it turns out, a group of Manitoba-based investors say they paid Core Life for 450,000 shares, at a dollar each, for the construction of a retirement residence in St. Thomas, Ont. in 2016. 

The shares purchased by investors were to be redeemed on or before March 30, 2017 for a price of $1.10 per share. The investors group subsequently took legal action in 2019 after they say Ferrari failed to pay. 

Another legal battle has seen Ferrari and a number of companies taken to court by M.O.S. Mortgage Solutions Ltd. over a “mortgage investment with respect to the development of a senior living facility” in St. Thomas. 

According to court documents, M.O.S. Mortgage Solutions Ltd. alleged that Fingal Property Holdings Inc. — a subsidiary of Wilsondale Assets Management Inc. owned by Ferrari that was incorporated in 2014 to acquire the St. Thomas property — used funds from investors for “other purposes than completion of the construction of the development.” 

Fingal Property Holdings Inc. has since entered into receivership, with RMS Canada assuming control of the St. Thomas property and Fingal's assets. 

Ferrari made headlines last year when Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli announced the creation of 96 long-term care beds in Trout Creek. The real estate developer also purchased the former Lady Isabelle Nursing Home with plans to transform the empty building into a seniors’ living facility.

SooToday has reached out multiple times to Ferrari and Anobile, seeking comment. They have yet to respond. 

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James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday based in Sault Ste. Marie
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