OPINION: DCC options

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(Image courtesy Sarah Schofield/The Chatham Voice)

A new arena? How about stores that don’t exist in Chatham-Kent? A fun family events area?

These are some ideas that have already popped up in conversation over the future of the Downtown Chatham Centre.

New owners Rob Myers, Don Tetrault, Pete and Jessica Tsirimbis, Ron Nydam, and Jim Bullock took over the DCC, rescuing it from bankruptcy. They stated they are open for input from the public on what exactly to do to the property.

The group mentioned the possibility of a new arena at its recent press conference. So it’s in their minds.

Ditto for an outdoor farmers’ market.

The DCC is not exactly a small footprint in the downtown core. This is the better part of a city block. An arena, for example, would not take up the entire space.

One can understand these people were not interested in the property just to pour money into it. What goes in there will have to be financially viable.

Perhaps a mix of commercial and recreational, maybe even with a smattering of residential. There are apartment projects underway in Chatham, but a chunk of that property could be utilized for a high-rise. That would bring more people into the downtown to live, thus placing consumers closer to whatever else may go in there.

The mayor said he’d like to see Chatham’s downtown morph into an entertainment district. It is an interesting idea, but can that be sustained?

That’s debatable.

What is needed is more for kids and families to do. Yet, as was the case with Locked In, such a venue was provided, but remained underutilized.

People will say they want an arena, but will they attend events there consistently to support it? They want specialty shops, but again, will they commit to purchasing at these stores rather than shop online to distant out-of-town mega franchises that employ no one in Chatham-Kent?

Again, debatable.

There is no quick, simple fix for the site. They cannot flip the switch and bring back what was once there. The future remains wide open, but is ultimately at the mercy of the whims of the Chatham-Kent public.

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