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Nickel City’s downtown water tower has a new owner

Dario Zulich, one of the proponents behind a plan to build a new arena on The Kingsway, purchases landmark and makes $80K donation to ALS charity
Gates Perreault, left, and Dario Zulich shake hands Tuesday at the official announcement Zulich is buying the water tower. Zulich is buying it from Perreault's son, Jeff, who is battling ALS. Darren MacDonald photo.

Greater Sudbury’s 60-year-old downtown Pearl Street water tower has a new owner.

It was announced this morning — and will be officially announced at a press conference this morning at 11 a.m. at All Nations Church on St. Raphael Street — that the water tower has been purchased by Dario Zulich, the owner of TESC Contracting, a partner in his family’s business, Zulich Enterprises, and one of the partners behind the True North Strong angling to build a new arena out on The Kingsway.

In a news release this morning, Zulich said his goal in purchasing the decommissioned tower is to preserve something he calls a downtown landmark. In a news release, he said in purchasing the tower he intends “to maintain a pleasant community appearance to help attract business investment, tourism and residents” to downtown.  

The tower was once the subject of a failed bid to have it declared a heritage site. Since its decommissioning in 1998, a plan to turn it into a restaurant failed and several developers have come forward with plans to develop the site, but none has succeeded.

Zulich purchased the tower from its most recent owners, Jeff Perreault and Justin Roy of Media Environmental, which purchased the tower from Westar Investments in 2010. Media Environmental’s plans for the site were sidelined in 2014 when Perreault was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral scleroris (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

“The Sudbury water tower is a well-known symbol in our community, and I am committed to its preservation,” Zulich said in a release. “I will make every attempt to honour Jeff’s wish for future development, as the tower and property have great potential.”

As part of the purchase agreement, Zulich donated $80,000 to the Adaptive Canuck ALS Foundation, a charity started by Perreault and his wife Brittney, following his diagnosis. The foundation’s goal is to speed up the development of a stem-cell treatment for ALS.

“I am pleased that this purchase can enlighten efforts with ALS stem cell research,” Zulich said. “I hope that my donation will provide some assistance to this remarkable cause.”

As a strong supporter of downtown beautification, Zulich wanted to preserve the water tower and ensure that the prominent landmark did not deteriorate. 
Adaptive Canuck is trying to raise $400,000 to fund the second phase of a three-phase ALS stem-cell research project being conducted in Toronto. Phase 2 involved trials in mice which, if successful, would lead to the $3.1-million Phase 3 in 2017, involving human trials.

There is no known cure for ALS. 

“I am relieved that the water tower is in good hands with a community builder like Dario”, said Perreault. “I trust that whatever he chooses to do with it will beautify Greater Sudbury and instill additional investment in our community.

“Furthermore, I am extremely grateful for Dario's very generous contribution to ALS adult stem cell research.  For myself, my family and all the other families and patients living and suffering from this debilitating disease, it is truly a monumental gift!”