April 28, 2017 – Paul Morden, The Observer – Oakville-based Seasons Retirement Communities has been identified as the new owner of Sarnia’s Bayside Centre.
The company that owns and operates 18 retirement residences in Ontario and Alberta is named in a report from city solicitor Scott McEachran to members of city council.
An information package from Seasons Retirement Communities is attached to the report going to Monday’s council meeting.
It says the company is planning a new 140 to 160-suite assisted living retirement residence as part of a master plan to be developed for the downtown site.
The company’s acquisition of the mall property closed April 18, according to the information package.
“It is Season’s intention to improve the Bayside Mall location, transforming it into the premier downtown destination for the citizens of Sarnia and Lambton County,” the package says.
Planning is expected to take a year, with construction of the residence beginning as early as 2018, it says.
Once the development plan has been finalized, Seasons will consider bringing on a third party developer “to work on the remainder of the site, to ensure the improvements promote community sustainability,” according to the information going to council.
The company said it expects at least 75 new full and part-time jobs will be created at the retirement residence.
“The company involved has the ability to carry out their plans,” and track record of other projects, said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley.
The company’s information package said it has projects worth more than $200 million, with more than 700 suites, in various phases of development and construction.
Bradley has said “re-purposing” the downtown mall is key to its future.
“When you look around the region, the one patient that is still sick is the mall,” Bradley said.
“This is an absolute cure for that property.”
He noted the company’s information package says its major investor is the Labourer’s International Union of North America.
“They are a very strong and respected organization in this community,” Bradley said.
The Bayside Centre sits on more than 8.52 acres of land assembled by the city in the early 1980s, and was known as the Sarnia Eaton Centre when it opened in 1982.
The site has had several owners over the years and went into receivership in late 2012, until it was purchased in 2015. A year ago, a mall official said about 34 per cent of its space was leased.
Along with stores and medical offices, the mall is home to the Lambton County Shared Services Centre, which holds county social services offices, the local Provincial Offences Court and a Service Ontario location.
The most recent sale included an adjacent property, said to be the former Industry Theatre site near the mall’s Vidal Street entrance.