Though city officials herald the sale of the land beneath the Bayside Centre as a vote of confidence in the local economy, Lambton County still hasn’t approved a 20-year lease agreement for its Shared Services offices in the mall.
And until that’s done, the new owners can’t proceed with a major overhaul of the key downtown commercial property.
A vote to approve the lease anticipated on June 3 once again did not happen.
“We’re very close, but there are some difficult negotiations between the parties and that takes time,” said Stephane Thiffeault, Lambton’s general manager of corporate services.
Lease negotiations with the building’s owner, Seasons Retirement Communities, began two years ago.
The Oakville-based company bought the Bayside Centre in 2017 and began interviewing architects to create a master plan. One early proposal involved a 12-storey assisted living retirement residence.
Thiffeault said his understanding from Seasons’ officials is they intend to begin demolition work soon as a lease can be signed with the county, possibly in July.
The major hurdle continues to be renovations to the Shared Services offices, he said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Mike Bradley said last week the paperwork has been finalized to sell the city-owned land beneath the Bayside Centre to the developer.
The city will receive $1 million over 20 years for the land. The deal is a significant one for the local economy, he said.
Sarnia is retaining a small parcel for a future transit terminal at the corner of George and Vidal streets.
If a new long-term lease agreement can be reached, it’s anticipated the county’s 200 social service and public health employees will remain in the two-storey building fronting Christina Street.