Is the King Street condo project dead in the water?

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Craig Francis, manager of Chatham-Kent Pawn Brokers, which is located just east of the Boardwalk on Thames condo project, said construction crews didn’t return to work following the Christmas break.

Tuesday’s apparent cancellation of work on the $50 million Boardwalk on the Thames condominium project has left more questions than answers but also a ray of hope, according to one Chatham council member.

Multiple sources in the business community confirmed that Everlast Group has mothballed the project, which has been under construction since April of 2013 at the corner of King and Fifth streets in downtown Chatham.

The project has become the subject of controversy. Nearly two years since breaking ground, it remains little more than a two-storey concrete shell.

Repeated calls to Everlast principal founder Victor Boutin have not been returned.

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Project manager Jimmy Boutin said he couldn’t answer any questions, as he was busy “working on paperwork,” and transferred calls to his father.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope and CAO Don Shropshire say they have not talked to Victor Boutin recently.

“The last time I talked to Victor was before Christmas,” Hope said.

Chatham-Kent Shropshire said he had not heard from Everlast.

“I haven’t heard anything. But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard rumours about them,” he said. “The last time I looked, there were still people working on the place.”

Hope said he is aware of a host of rumours swirling around the municipality in regards to the condo project.

“I hear all kinds of rumours. I figured if Victor had something to say, he would give me a call,” he said. “I know some of the things that have been going on, but it’s not my place to say. I’m not the project manager for Victor’s project. Have I received the formal notification that says he’s shutting down the project? I have not.”

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Michael Bondy

Chatham Coun. Michael Bondy said he has been told that Everlast has “walked away from the project. I believe that project is done. It’s been announced in offices connected with the project.”

Bondy said as far as he’s concerned, the municipality’s goal should be to facilitate development by someone else.

“There is only so much the municipality can do,” he said. “It’s privately owned, but it affects the community so much because of its location. We need to step up and show that whatever the problems were with Everlast, that this is a viable project and we’re willing to extend whatever help we can to make it work.”

Bondy said business owners such as Dan Warrener, George Tsirimbis and Sonya Roe are among those who have shown great faith in the downtown core.

“We have a solid core with many amenities,” he said. “This was going to be the crown jewel but we will carry on and find another way.”

Bondy said contrary to rumours, the municipality has not made any financial contribution to Everlast. “We have facilitated the process as we would for any project but we have no tax dollars invested in this.”

Craig Francis, manager of Chatham-Kent Pawn Brokers just east of the project on King Street, said Boardwalk construction workers haven’t returned from their holiday break.

He said some workers were notified Monday not to report for duty. “I was told it’s done, but beyond that I don’t know the reason,” he said.

Francis added it was his understanding that a representative of Everlast was to be in Chatham Tuesday to meet with staff, however, it is unknown if the meeting took place.

“I feel bad for the workers,” Francis said. “A lot of them were customers who would come in to see what we had.”

boardwalk on thames 3 webA visit to the site Tuesday afternoon found no workers or equipment. A crane that has been located at the site for several months was idle.

It has been reported in 2013 that Everlast had sold 80% of the 113 units in the 12-storey building. It is unknown if any of those buyers were local or if prospective tenants lost any deposits they may have placed with the firm.

The Boardwalk on the Thames website was still up Wednesday, noting the project is “designed to excite the senses and take high rise living to a whole new level” with occupancy set for sometime in 2014.

A sales office had been set up on King Street East at the former YMCA building, and Royal LePage Peifer Realty still featured the project prominently on its website as of Wednesday morning.

Repeated Calls to Royal LePage this morning were not returned.

Chatham Coun. Derek Robertson, when contacted late Tuesday, said he had not heard anything on the matter, and hopes the rumours are false.

“That would be devastating. I don’t know how else to describe it,” he said. “I can tell you I have not heard anything.”

The project was announced with great fanfare in September of 2010 when developer Victor Boutin said his plans for Chatham Kent hinged on the re-election of Hope, a statement Boutin distanced himself from two weeks before the election.

Boutin’s firm is involved in renovating the former Park Street United Church into an apartment and office complex. The fate of that project is unknown.

This story will be updated.

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  1. From the first time I heard of this project I suspected an insurance scam. Building a condo with underground parking is the first clue, nearly every year that I can remember the river has flooded this area. Bankruptcy would be my next guess leaving the municipality holding the bag for this calculated scheme.

  2. No surprise here and now Bondy wants Chatham to finish it!!! Hope he is paying for it not the people. This seems to be a trend, let's start something and if we don't want to finish or if we don't have enough money it's ok, Chatham will pay for it.

  3. It doesn't seem like a structurally safe location for a highrise. The fact that this company was operating a crane and moving large objects over top of people on the streets is also very concerning! What a disaster.

  4. Yes, it would be horrible is this project has indeed gone belly up. But since the conclusions drawn in this article are based on speculation, I'd say it makes sense to wait on confirmation from the project principals before getting our knickers in a knot.

  5. possibly on a positive note. this project wouldn't have broken ground without the approval by a structural engineer. The building guidelines and codes are strict with safety as a first priority. Maybe this can be the foundation for someone else to pick up where the other company left off. Hopefully it will turn out well for Chatham, and add to the positivity that other chatham business people are trying to do in the downtown core.

  6. Actually, Penelope, some people did research this prior to the election and Mr. Boutin was found to have started other projects that were abandoned after ground clearing. I believe there is still an ongoing issue with Everlast and Mr. Boutin in the GTA.

  7. I got to know a few of the workers and they went for holidays Dec 23rd, Rick and they planned to come back to work on Monday of this week… So don't tell public you seen them working they weren't!! They lost there jobs!!! Fact not rumor and I' am NOT your buddy!!!

  8. We'd love to talk to Victor Boutin. As you can see in the story, we managed to get Jimmy Boutin, the project manager, on the phone, who sent the message that his paperwork was immensely more important than talking about the mega-million-dollar condo project. Repeated messages to Victor have not yielded a return call.
    We heard about the project coming to a halt from several sources and continued to pursue the matter this morning. It wasn't until a municipal councillor went on record that we decided to go live with our story.
    If media outlets were to always wait for the principal subjects in stories to speak with us, very little in enterprise reporting would ever take place. Media dodgeball would only get worse.
    Victor can really help clear the air by answering our calls.

  9. Hi Bruce and Craig… I'll begin by restating the first sentence in my comment: "Yes, it would be horrible if this project has indeed gone belly up". I truly hope, for the sake of our community and for those who have invested in this project, that, at worst, this is all about poor planning/management/ communication on the part of the builders. For the record, Craig, I do believe that you were being truthful in repeating what you've heard. And I totally understand, Bruce, that media dodging can't get in the way of keeping the public informed. My concern is about taking a number of rumours (so-and-so heard this, someone else heard that) and packaging them to form a definitive conclusion.
    I know that you're very aware, Bruce, that I have great respect for you and Jim – I've always been an admirer of your writing style AND your heart for our community. Having said that, I was must say that I was surprised, and felt bothered by the presentation of this story. What stings most of all is what I'm reading in terms of public reaction to the possible fate of this downtown project. I'm seeing responses filled with heightened frustration in a community that's already weighed down by the pressure of financial strain. I don't know, just seems that the article could have been presented differently – including the headline… until you are able to receive clarification from the stakeholders of this project. Just my feeling about it, is all. And, yes, like you, we're all anxious for the Boutin's get their act together and 'clear the air' one way or the other. Thanks for keeping at them for answers!!

  10. This is and was a scam to get Mr Hope back into office, if you remember that it was addressed that the project would not start if Mr. Hope was not re-elected. Well ,for all those that voted for him…..thank you for the huge eye sore.

  11. Well it is not Chatham Kent that gets involved in the multi million dollar projects, it is Chatham look around an you will see some small communities that get nothing. But we pay are taxes an we pay the increase an all, just drive around an you will see the shape of some of the roads out in the community. All that I can say hope we find a new buyer for this one.

  12. Well it is not Chatham Kent that gets involved in the multi million dollar projects, it is Chatham look around an you will see some small communities that get nothing. But we pay are taxes an we pay the increase an all, just drive around an you will see the shape of some of the roads out in the community. All that I can say hope we find a new buyer for this one.

  13. I seen St.Clair street as a kid becoming the main drag,I new destroying our down town was wrong,I also seen the boardwalk on the Thames being 20 years to late. And the this direction of buildings for parking still to this day floors me on the directions this city is going !

  14. Is this facts? Or maybe just maybe they not working because it is negative 20 with the wind chill.. last week they were working I seen them all there.. so they take a couple days off and a huge rumor lol maybe buddy should go back in his pawn shop and mind his own..

  15. I agree with you on this 100%. Not only is working in cold temperatures unsafe for long durations, but the type of work (concrete placement) is adversely affected by low temperature, reducing the quality of the product unless its properly designed to cure in the colder temperatures. Considering no one was available for comment, and this is all based on speculation, I'd hold off judgement until an official word is released.

    I loved the responses you got though.

    And I'm NOT your buddy, friend!

  16. James and Chatham Voice thank you for coming down, I haven't laughed so hard people including Chatham Daily News claims weather… Ok .. We had a winter last year!!! We haven't seen a winter yet and these men worked last winter in worse conditions!!!! Any ways look forward to working with you again… Folks if you want truth ask for truth facts honest answers!!! Trust me for over a year and 6months I have!!!

  17. I certainly hope the project will be picked up by another party. Hey — add another two storeys to it and you still have a Chatham "skyscraper".

  18. It's been dumb for years the locals barely have any money there's a high rate for welfare users and abusers and there's a nationally recognized drug problem…. This towns nearly beyond saving and building a condo that 80% of the population can't afford isn't going to help.

  19. I hope the work continues and that the project will get completed. Downtown Chatham does not deserve to be left this way. But I must say I noticed that the owner was only interested if HOPE was re-elected! I can tell you one thing HOPE better not make some sort of DEAL to have this completed at the expense of the taxpayers. It was a private deal and better stay a private deal!!

  20. As much as I can't help but feel is if this is a scrapped project, it would be horrible if it turned into a capital theatre fiasco…please keep those financial buzzards away from this project. On the other hand, I have hope that this can still turn into something good. We, the general public don't know all the details yet but there is still a great structure sitting there waiting to finish our landscape and will add beauty when its done. There has been a lot of great progress in the downtown core thanks to the great investors that have vision. I feel for the people who are out of work right now that didn't see this coming. Please, please…the smart downtown investors -if this is a viable project worth saving, step in if you can and make this a great landscape for Chatham. We are not done growing yet. No matter the reason Victor Boutin has for stopping it, I think he had a great vision for our small city. That in itself is great. For whatever reason this has happened. Think logically before proceeding, but lets find an answer.

  21. This is just the icing on the cake for the death of downtown Chatham….perhaps it is time to come to the realization that it can't be saved. Hind sight is 20 20 but perhaps 35 years ago they should not have torn down the beautiful old architectural buildings of the past but rather saved them and promoted them. Harrison Hall was and the market square could have made a great tourist area and shops….we didn't need a Sears mall…that could have been built on some hard clay ground out in the county. Even the downtown mall can barely stay alive. If the people of CK have to pay more taxes to bail yet another "project gone bad" it will be a sad thing. Of course we keep electing the same mayor and the same counsel….and they wonder why we can't get new businesses or any one to move into the area….it is dying and just becoming a retirement area.

  22. Chatham-Kent Pawn Brokers "may" be abit biased on the story, if I recall they have had issues with the construction since day one !. i'll wait for an official word rather than an upset shop keeper with a bothered history with said project.

  23. Chatham-Kent Pawnbrokers Until one or more of "the construction workers" come forward and speak out themselves, this is all hearsay and rumors.

  24. You know if Chatham had to take this over maybe it could be turned into a big plus for downtown. Turn it into affordable rental apartments for ordinary and lower income people who would actually keep their business downtown because they don't have a car to go out to the plazas.

  25. Chatham is the only city where a person can get 27% of the votes and still win the election. People of Chatham, yes there's issues with the city council. Next municipal elections let's try avoiding having everyone and their dog run against Randy Hopeless and have one maybe two candidates against him. This will surely turn the tides.

  26. These companies owe this community an explanation and the return of any and all depozits made by potential investors / tenants. They should be penalized monetarily for the inconveniences to those who invested and the community in general. We MUST STOP LETTING COMPANIES ABANDON OUR COMMUNITY WITHOUT SUBSTANTIAL PENALTIES. This may stop these practices!

  27. Well said, Betty. I worked at more than a few retail stores in downtown Chatham starting in 1971. It was a thriving area. The first change was to remove the farmers market and build a parking garage, and then came the news that two landmark hotels in downtown would be removed to make way for a shopping mall. That marked the death of downtown Chatham as a retail core.

  28. Let's see… we have a 9.6 million dollar downtown Chatham revitalization project scheduled, will this figure now go up to revitalize or restart this mess? Will C-K council say we can afford this? Maybe after we build it we can give it away just like the theatre?

  29. If it's not the weather, the stoppage of this project is a shame. It's not the location or flooding fears, there are buildings with underground parking built next to rivers and oceans all over the world. The people deserve answers.
    I remember growing up in Chatham, hangin' out downtown. We would cruise cars, have cokes at the Venus, my uncle had a shop on the main drag, cool. Some great memories. Over the years I've seen Robby Myers done some great things for Chatham in and out of the core, but he can't do it alone. Not so long ago, Chatham was a great city with a fairly substantial manufacturing base.
    (In my opinion, some won't like this part) Unfortunately union rhetoric and greed out weighed the long term thinking of local sustainability and the global market. Personally, I worked at Libby's and Canadian Fram, my friends and family members also worked in many of the local factories. Unfortunately there has been a slow deterioration of the once strong manufacturing base Chatham once had. My family members still live in and close to Chatham, they love it, small and affordable. Only density and the local residents opening and supporting boutique shopping will save the core. Anything can be saved if there is political will and community support.

    A question to Chatham residents: Will the people stop shopping at Walmart and discount shops on the outskirts of town to support a new downtown core?

  30. he'll probably build the new arena complex for the municipality — Mayor Hope did your good friend leave you holding the bag of empty promises —- another white elephant — can't wait to see what the long awaited chinese investors have in store for us !!!!!!

  31. To Bruce and James thank-you guys for reporting both stories, thank you for listening and allowing a VOICE to be heard.. Thank you Mike Bondy from our family to yours… I have tried many times to contact the city as a business manager and tax rate payer and got nothing; for concerns we felt were extremely important and got same response from Victor…The public may think they know the whole truth about this story, example snow, concrete pour, the $205,000 why don't they ask the people who do know??? I was told stop complaining about parking, the store was looking for sympathy… What they don't know is we had to extend our hours 100 plus a week to make up loss during the day and still pay our bills… There are three other tenants beside our store plus tenants in building next to us… Do you know how many moved??!! PARKING, MESSES, e.t.c … So when people comment you don't know shit I say really!!! I told stated for the record today I would have shared all on Monday night, but as sworn I wait till Tuesdays out come…After time we did a story we were laughed at told we were simply looking for public out pour!! These guys from site worked last winter… Glad I got to know them they felt are flusteration and heard it, but the way it all came to Tuesday…Look forward to meeting you Bruce and James again, thanks well done; and mostly thanks for inquirying about the $205,000 for the story after yesturdays comments in Chatham Daily News I had to see this answered..

  32. Yeah I thought they were gonna build a multi million dollar building so they could cash in on a couple thousand dollars worth of facility equipment that might be stored down there – ya, ok.

    One of two things are at play. 1) maybe they are out of money. 2) maybe they decided to shut down for the coldest time of the year and save on every cost associated with cold work. (Heat, concrete additives, blankets, lower production, snow removal, etc)

  33. Its probably important to point out that this company has spent a good amount of money investing in Chatham-Kent. Other then big box stores and windmills this company shouldn't be so easily jumped on. Let them deal with whatever it is.


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