A Hamilton-based entrepreneur with close ties to Sarnia-Lambton has offered to purchase the former Holmes Foundry property in Point Edward and anticipates the deal will close April 30, the Sarnia Journal has learned.
“We are very committed to the site and expect to hit the ground running,” said Tyler Pearson, co-founder and managing partner at Malleum Partners, a private equity company with experience developing properties that need remediation.
The 16-acre (6.5 hectare) former foundry property is a vacant brownfield next to Highway 402, just east of the Blue Water Bridge. It has been marketed for decades as a prime development site.
The land was tied up in litigation and remedial environmental work for more than 30 years but is ready to be developed for multiple uses, said Pearson who grew up in Corunna and graduated from St. Christopher Secondary (now St. Pat’s) in Sarnia.
“This all started for me when I was home for Easter last spring,” he said. “I drove over the Christina Street overpass, saw the property, and parked my car.
“I remember standing there thinking somebody has to do something with this. It’s too large of a marquee site, the first you see when you enter the country, to just sit there.
“I put the offer in the next day.”
The property was listed for $7 million, but the Malleum Partners’ offer remains confidential.
Pearson said the property could be developed with some kind of combination of housing, a long-term care facility, commercial space, warehouse space, a hotel, or even a sports complex. He has already talked to interested “stakeholders” in the local community, he said.
“I don’t view this as just another investment. This is also my hometown. I intend to move mountains to see this through.”
He said numerous studies for potential development are already complete and the timing is right.
“For the first time in a long time, people are moving to the region and I don’t think that trend is going to change any time soon. We would like to move forward with development as expeditiously as possible.”
Point Edward Mayor Bev Hand said the village has reviewed preliminary concept drawings.
“(Malleum) has shared their vision with us and say they will do a formal public consultation before going ahead with anything,” she said.
“We’re obviously very excited about this. It’s been a rollercoaster the past 30 years. Now, I think the fact that Tyler is local gives him an appreciation for what could do well here.”
Two years ago, village council decided that demolition of two derelict foundry buildings would make the land more marketable, Hand said. But the current ownership, known as Point Edward Gateway Inc., didn’t have the cash so the village paid $840,000 to have the buildings razed.
That cost, as well as tax arrears, will be repaid when the sale closes, she said.
Chrysler closed the foundry in the 1980s and spent $8.5 million on an environmental cleanup, but it’s possible the land is still contaminated, said Pearson.
“The vendor has obligations and, due to confidentiality, I am not able to disclose what they have agreed to,” he said. “But we are looking forward to turning a new page and are aware there could be environmental issues post-closing.
”We have a very good team, we’ve worked through remediation before, and I’m confident we can manage any challenges,” said Pearson.
“I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch,” he added. “But if the deal closes as I anticipate, public consultation could start this summer.”
The sale of the land is also good news for the group of local residents who purchased the property and was defrauded in 1999 by a local realtor and one-time foundry owner.
Seventeen years of legal wrangling ended with an Ontario Supreme Court decision granting ownership to Point Edward Gateway Inc.
Litigation took so long that numerous Gateway members died before their investment could be sold, including former spokesman Ray Lariviere who died in 2021.