Lambton County will ink a deal with Seasons Retirement Communities for 73,000 square feet of space inside a renovated Bayside Centre. That’s the view of Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley and Plympton - Wyoming Mayor Lonnie Napper.
Both say the “20-year lease agreement will happen” despite delays getting the agreement signed.
“I think it is a matter of cost,” says Napper suggesting the hang up is likely the lease but remains optimistic that the deal with Seasons is “workable”. Napper says it is a good fit for everyone, the City, the downtown and the County. He anticipates a deal to make the County an anchor tenant will happen by the end of January.
Plans to “repurpose” Bayside include a nine storey tower for seniors, a nine storey residential tower, 73,000 square feet for the County shared services, Provincial Court Offices, a medical centre, a restaurant and 54,000 square feet of retail space.
Mike Lavallee, Chief Executive Officer of Seasons says the project will cost more than $100 million and take five to seven years to complete. He says the County portion has been stalled because it is a 20-year lease and the project has been pestered by soaring construction costs.
“We want to do this right and we only want to do it once,” says Lavallee.
Bradley who is optimistic about the deal describes the County as an integral part of Bayside Centre. “It is a new location and a new lease inside a renovated Mall and it is taking longer than expected”.
In addition to the seniors and residential towers a pedestrian walkway to the south will connect the County space to the Provincial Offences Court and into what was the former A&P Grocery Store.
The objective is to make the repurposed Bayside a residential and community hub with people living in the core that can take advantage of downtown amenities.
Seasons purchased Bayside last year and has been negotiating with the City to buy the property on which the Mall sits.
Napper says the County’s recent $1.2 million purchase of the former CIBC Bank at Lochiel and Front Streets has nothing to do with the Bayside deal. “They are two separate buildings. The County was already leasing the Bank and had an opportunity to buy it”.
As for Bayside, Napper says there would be a substantial cost to move County staff elsewhere which is why he is optimistic Seasons and the County will reach of deal.