Politicians and Islamic community leaders dug in with shovels Wednesday to mark the groundbreaking of the project.
The Windsor Islamic Association Foundation gathered with city council members to mark the start of construction, which will wrap up late next year. The complex, the association says, will be five two-story buildings, each with six seniors' apartments. It will sit on a half-hectare parcel of land near the mosque at 1320 Northwood St.
Organizers say it's more than 20 years in the making.
"To get to (this) stage, you need land and you need opportunity," said foundation chair Fareed Denath. "That opportunity came and we worked on the design and this is what we came up with."
He said the seniors who will live there can "come and pray five times a day just by walking across the street, in the comfort of not being at risk."
Residents can "literally just walk out of the apartment, walk across the street and join the larger community very easily," said Atiq Nakrawala, treasurer of the Islamic association.
Nakrawala said the development, which includes a parkette and event space, could actually reduce traffic at Northwood Street and Dominion Boulevard because people residing there won't have to drive to the mosque anymore.
"Hopefully it's going to lessen it and make it better," he said.
"We looked into every single aspect of this corner."
Organizers say the foundation will help subsidize rents to keep them below market value. Already, about 100 people are interested.
The community's presence on Northwood Street dates back to 1969, when the Windsor Islamic Association began construction on the mosque.
Rosati Construction is building the development.