A 134,000-square-foot retail development in the north end of North Bay will bring some new retailers to the city.
McKeown Commons, a $60 to $70-million project, is expected to open in the fall of 2014.
“I am a developer of secondary markets and I am in places like Owen Sound and Niagara Falls, and I always liked North Bay,” said Guery Goyo, president of the Vaughanbased Villarboit Development Corporation.
“This property came up and I tried to buy it from Loblaws and then Lowe’s tied it up for a couple of years, and then it became available, and I bought it from Loblaws.”
The property, located next to Canadian Tire and adjacent to Highway 17 West, is about 90 per cent leased out.
“We are waiting for one major tenant to get back to us to fill up the last of the vacancies,” he said during a ground-breaking ceremony Aug. 6.
While he had no comment due to confidentiality agreements on the retailers who have leased space, Toronto-based Paracom Realty Corporation listed them on an online brochure advertising the retail opportunity.
They include Winners, SportChek, Michaels, PetSmart, Dollar Tree, A&W, Sally Beauty Supply, and St. Louis Wings and Ribs.
Winners and SportChek are currently tenants in the North Bay Mall on Lakeshore Drive and it is expected they will vacate that location. Attempts to reach a spokesperson for the two retailers were unsuccessful.
“It wasn’t hard to attract retailers to the city. I am a midsize developer, and retailers tell me where they want to be and they said they wanted to be in North Bay,” Goyo said.
The McKeown Avenue area has experienced significant growth in the past few years and only 1.7 acres remain for development.
Two car dealers – Hopper Buick GMC and North Bay Toyota – have expanded, along with Sobey’s grocery store.
Target opened its doors earlier this summer and Shoppers Drug Mart and a Hilton Hampton Inn were built a few years ago along with a Boston Pizza. Twiggs opened a new location on the street and two new 10,000-square-foot strip malls have been developed.
North Bay Mayor Al McDonald said a large population in that area, particularly students in need of the area’s goods and services, the proximity and visibility from the Trans Canada highway and high traffic volume in the area, drives interest in development in that area.
“The North Bay Regional Health Centre employs 2,000 people, Nipissing University and Canadore College employ about 1,000, plus a student population of 8,000 make this an area in demand,” he said. “The confidence and investment by this group is very much appreciated by us and it is a shot in the arm for us.”
While he too was bound by confidentiality agreements, he said if a vacancy or two should occur at North Bay Mall, the city’s economic development corporation will work with the owners to backfill. “The businesses and large chains want to be here. This is 134,000 square feet and a 256-bed (Canadore College) residence is going to be built down the street, so over $25 million worth of property is being developed in this area so that is good for us.”