By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
It’s been more than a decade in the making and The Boardwalk on the Thames is finally ready to receive its first tenants.
On March 1, the multi-million dollar apartment complex in downtown Chatham will partially open its doors to new residents.
“It is very exciting and we are very happy. We’ve been waiting for this day for so many years and finally we are here,” said Victor Boutin, Everlast Group Ltd. owner.
The project first received municipal approval in 2011 and construction has been underway since the spring of 2013. Since then there have been many setbacks. Boutin said he went through four different painters and has redone the electrical and mechanical work to “get a building of very high quality.”
The building is currently 80 per cent complete according to Boutin who is content with the near-finished product.
“We got exactly the way we wanted and didn’t cut any corners,” he said.
Boutin said part of the reason the project experienced many setbacks was the lack of local expertise in high-rise buildings.
“It’s been up and down because we had problems with contractors. It’s very hard to get good contractors on high rises because they don’t have the technology or capacity to do those kinds of projects.”
The apartment complex includes one-bedroom units to two-bedroom units with two bathrooms. Rental prices range between $2,000 and to just below $3,500. Tenants may be able to view Tecumseh Park, the Thames River or historic buildings in downtown Chatham depending on their apartment.
“I think Chatham-Kent deserved a building like this,” he said. “I came here 10 years ago and loved the area. It’s a very nice location for people looking to retire and young professionals.”
Boutin and his wife will also be moving into a suite in the 88-unit building. Forty-four units are currently ready for move-in with the rest expecting to be completed in June. There is already a waiting list for viewings, according to Boutin.
There are two retail spaces also available for lease, which Boutin hopes will be filled with young entrepreneurs.
Boutin believes Chatham-Kent’s downtown business area will see a renewal in the coming years, which he said is very good for investors.
“Now is the right time to do it, in a few years everything will double in price so people should invest in Chatham,” he said. “My vision is that Chatham-Kent will have a nice future.”
Boutin said he plans to continue his investments in Chatham-Kent. After the Boardwalk, he plans to finish the last two phases in the redevelopment of the old YMCA building, which is being retrofitted for student housing.