Commercial art gallery

Council approves exploration of DCC’s proposal

An artist’s rendition of renovated downtown Chatham, with a community center, to the right, that would house various municipal services, as well as a new arena, and more.

By Pam Wright
Journalist of the Local Journalism Initiative

Imagine that Chatham-Kent took a cautious step forward.

At its August 8 meeting, Chatham-Kent Council voted to allocate $2 million to the ‘due diligence’ aspect of an ambitious plan to turn downtown Chatham into a sprawling shopping center complex. civic, a state-of-the-art arena. /entertainment center, a redeveloped streetscape on King Street, and future private investment that could include housing or perhaps a new hotel.

Council has also decided to designate Imagine Chatham-Kent as a priority project for the municipality, in line with its strategic objectives.

In total, the estimate for the whole project is between 115 and 125 million dollars. Phase 1 is estimated at $53 million, Phase II is estimated at $60-70 million, with Phase III at no cost to ratepayers.

The plan, designed by a group of established community partners, would see construction undertaken by private investors with ownership of the buildings eventually handed over to the municipality.

Although most board members are supportive of the project, many are concerned that every angle will be considered as part of the due diligence process.

However, some wanted to see the plan referred to the next elected council, but a motion to that effect by East Kent Coun. Steve Pinsonneault was beaten.

As described in an administrative report, the development is divided into three phases. The first phase includes the redevelopment of the former Sears Building into a facility that can house the Chatham-Kent Civic Center, the Chatham-Kent Public Library, and the Chatham Cultural Center Museum and Art Gallery.

Phase II includes the construction of the entertainment complex on the DCC footprint as well as the commercial redevelopment of the King Street landscape.

Phase III will be entirely reserved for private development.

The report indicates that the municipality would be responsible for all costs associated with the development, acquisitions and continued operation of all facilities and structures that will be municipally owned.

Other recommendations for Imagine Chatham-Kent were also approved, including:

  • a certified appraisal and engineering report is completed, if applicable, for portions of DCC property that are to be transferred to municipal ownership;
  • retaining a qualified, independent firm through a request for proposals to conduct further public consultation, feasibility, financial review and final scoping report with recommended next steps for submission to the Board;
  • the engagement of external legal counsel to map the implementation of the development agreement between the community partners who own the shopping center for approval by council; and
  • authorization from the CAO to carry out any operation

Due Diligence Process Agreement that are approved by the Municipal Legal Department.

Interviewed by South Kent Coun. Clare Latimer on a timeline for the due diligence process, project manager Bruce McAllister said a request for proposals would be issued immediately with possible hires returning to the board by October.

McAllister, Chatham-Kent’s general manager of community development, told council the independent firm would simultaneously oversee Phases 1 and II, “as appropriate”, reporting to council on Phase One in February 2023 and Phase Two. in March or April. next year.

Funding for the due diligence process will come from lifecycle reserves.