Lambton County Councilors are watching closely as a receiver tries to find a buyer for the Bayside Mall in Sarnia.
The mall’s owner, a real estate developer, went into receivership in 2011 and A. John Page has been trying to sell it since then. The 245,000 square-foot downtown mall is listed at $6.5 million but with only 44 percent of the space leased, an aging building and the City of Sarnia holding the title to the land it sits on, Page says the response has been “underwhelming.”
The receiver has had several conversations with Sarnia officials about a way to sell both the building and the land, but so far, they have not reached an agreement. Page recently met with both City and County Council to explain what was going on.
The county spends about $1 million a year leasing 56,000 square feet of the building for its shared services and provincial offences court.
Warden Todd Case says since the county is the largest leaseholder in the mall, he thought it was important for councilors to know what was going on and to help the receiver, in whatever way possible, to find a buyer. “I thought as warden it was important (for the receiver) to speak directly to county council and (Sarnia) city council so everyone hears the same things.”
Page thought that was a good idea. “We’re trying to repackage it to attract the right type of developer,” says Page.
“We want to see if there is a way to work together to provide certainty…for our marketing on this particular piece of land.”
County councilors such as St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold say it is important to the county to have the issue settled. The county has two years left on its lease at the mall and a sale to the right buyer would provide stability.
“We have a major stake in that building, so it’s a concern,” says Arnold. “We need to have a discussion to see what the options are.
“I want long-term stability for our staff and our clients, wherever we are.”
County council and city council have asked their administrators to meet with Page and present any solutions or suggestions to each council.