By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
The Downtown Chatham Centre is officially up for sale after entering into receivership several months ago and the former manager is hoping it falls into the hands of locals.
On Oct. 30, the 100 King St. W. property fell into the possession and control of BDO Canada Ltd. in accordance with the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. It was most recently listed for sale by JLL’s National Retail Investment Group.
“I hope that (the buyer) is someone local that understands the market. Chatham-Kent is a different market,” said Lynn O’Brien who ran the mall as the manager for nine years under the ownership of the Warreners.
A few months ago, O’Brien stepped back into her role, on an interim basis, to help spruce things up when Touchstone Group Ltd. of Toronto, took over from Goldberg Groups of Hamilton.
O’Brien said the Downtown Chatham Centre saw success under local leadership until Sears left the mall, which marked the beginning of the DCC’s decline.
While the former manager was working for the DCC last year, she heard a strong desire from residents to bring in more national retailers so they would not have to drive out of town to Windsor and London. But that is not all that is needed to revitalize the failing building.
“We have new residents coming here. It should be a place to work, a place to enjoy a nice dinner out, and some entertainment,” she said.
Most recently, a group of local investors headed by Robb Nelson and Dan Warrener came together to purchase the DCC and bring to light that vision of a downtown core made up of business professionals and retailers. The condition was that they would enter into a partnership with the municipality who would own the Sears building to be used as the new city hall. That deal never came through as the municipality opted to stick with its current location further west on King Street.
O’Brien said that although she respects the decision of the council, she had hoped things would have gone the other way. She remains optimistic that this is not the last the community will see of the mall.
READ MORE: Municipality washes hands of DCC
“It’s a good building, it’s strong and it’s at a beautiful corner. King Street is just gorgeous. It’s part of a community, it’s a hub for downtown and my hope is that it remains that,” she said. “It is a tough market to sell but it is sellable. So I do believe that it has to be someone who does understand the market and listens to what the people want. I’m positive things will turn out fine.”
The company did not disclose how much the DCC is on the market for. Documents from BDO value its total assets at $19.1 million.
Potential buyers have until March 15 to place a bid.
The mall is currently at 30.4 per cent occupancy and according to the listing is 8.8 acres with 700 parking spots available.
Good Tuesday Morning January 26, 2021. It’s good news to know something is moving the sale of the DCC mall. As Leasing and Events Manager for DCC for over one year beginning September 2019 throught to November 2020, I was hopeful something would happen too. Mr. Syed; the owner was also eager to sell the mall.
Together we beat all the bushes. Our proposal to CITY Councils and all parties to sell the mall to the City has been on going for several months and the outcome is not surprising. It is what it is. I introduced Line Dancing and Art Exhibits and 100 Mile Mall walk challenge, Art Shows and Exhibits, Craft Shows and a Free reading room for all to use, this was all expunged when the previous owners took it back and re-appointed a previous manager that had been fired by Mr Syed. These parties cancelled all the activities. Of course this was not good since retailers depend on traffic as you all know. Tons of ideas came through my desk about what could and should and must be done to the mall. But since it was taken over by these receivers, ours hands were tied and so we moved on.
And compounding this scenario with the current, not surprising Legal Actions, I Let the Legal Beagles figure it all out. Life is too short to fight with those desperate administrators.
Anyway, Chatham has so much to offer as a community driven and vibrant city to live in. I remain optimistic that we have many creative people and well meaning people living here and also a good number of very affluent residents, that if they really wanted to really do something they would.
As you all well know, Chatham is becoming a kind of Seniors Ville and I continue the push for Council to re- consider Mayor Canniff’s great idea to make this dcc a Central Downtown HUB for our city. ROA and I also worked on a master plan to convert the whole of King Street into a great modern Promenade that would and can be used by all residents near and far. Copies of this proposal was sent to all council members and offices etc pertaining to the City’s Development.
But it all comes down to money and the will of council. N’est pas?
I remain optimistic that after these terribly challenging Covid days are over, A HUB will become even more critical to the survival of our City’s Core. Moving Forward Creatively.