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Bayside Mall redevelopment still stalled by county lease

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Troy Shantz

An agreement removing a roadblock that’s stalling redevelopment of the Bayside Mall could be reached soon, says Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.

The city owns the land beneath the mall and planned to sell it Seasons Retirement Communities for $1 million.

But the deal didn’t close on Nov. 29 as planned because Seasons hasn’t yet reached agreement with Lambton County on a new lease for the county’s mall office space.

“I think there’s good faith there,” Bradley said. “It is in motion and there’s no one to bless or blame on the status right now.”

Seasons has said it plans to invest $40 million in downtown commercial and residential development, including a 12-storey retirement home on the mall site.

The county’s services are located in what was once a thriving Eaton’s store. But the building has challenges that include a leaky roof and ageing escalators that require frequent repair.

“They’re going to have to go from that lease rate to a higher lease rate, obviously, for a brand-new, modern, state-of-the-art facility,” the mayor said.

“That is part of the challenge of getting those numbers to work.”
The developer has updated its plans for the site. Once all of the tenants are out of the mall’s north end it will be demolished to make way for a 12-storey tower. The tower will have retail space on the ground floor facing Christina Street, and 140 to 160 suites for a retirement complex with independent living, supported housing and memory care services.

Construction of the retirement home is slated for 2020.

As part of the deal, 300 underground parking spaces with paid parking will remain available to the public forever.

The city will also keep 7,000 square feet of land at the corner of Vidal and George streets for a future transit terminal.

The plan also calls a pedestrian walkway to be opened up, extending Lochiel Street into what is now mall space, and create new commercial and retail units.

If major parts of the project aren’t complete within 36 months the city can buy back the land for $850,000.



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