Imagine Chatham-Kent

Background

Last spring it was announced a group of local investors had purchased the Downtown Chatham Centre property.

On June 28, 2021 Municipal Council directed administration “to prepare a report regarding options for relocation or redevelopment of municipal assets including, but not limited to, the Civic Centre as part of the plans to redevelop the Downtown Chatham Centre property”. Shortly afterwards, administration issued a survey on behalf of the local investors group to solicit ideas from the public on how the DCC site can be developed for future use (Share Your Ideas-Downtown Chatham Centre).

Subsequent to this public engagement, the investors – collectively referred to as the Community Partners in the Imagine Chatham-Kent proposal - commissioned an architectural firm, at their cost, to prepare a preliminary design concept for the redevelopment of the DCC site. Although referred to as the Community Partners, no formal partnership has been entered into with the Municipality.

A video presentation of the Imagine Chatham-Kent preliminary design concept can be viewed below.

On June 13, 2022 Municipal Council directed administration to continue with a public engagement process to solicit feedback on the Imagine Chatham-Kent proposal in its presented form. Administration was also directed to begin a due diligence process to determine capital cost estimates of the Community Hub and Entertainment Complex, in conjunction with a review of the proposal’s scope and assumptions. Information will be reported back to Council at a later date.


Background

Last spring it was announced a group of local investors had purchased the Downtown Chatham Centre property.

On June 28, 2021 Municipal Council directed administration “to prepare a report regarding options for relocation or redevelopment of municipal assets including, but not limited to, the Civic Centre as part of the plans to redevelop the Downtown Chatham Centre property”. Shortly afterwards, administration issued a survey on behalf of the local investors group to solicit ideas from the public on how the DCC site can be developed for future use (Share Your Ideas-Downtown Chatham Centre).

Subsequent to this public engagement, the investors – collectively referred to as the Community Partners in the Imagine Chatham-Kent proposal - commissioned an architectural firm, at their cost, to prepare a preliminary design concept for the redevelopment of the DCC site. Although referred to as the Community Partners, no formal partnership has been entered into with the Municipality.

A video presentation of the Imagine Chatham-Kent preliminary design concept can be viewed below.

On June 13, 2022 Municipal Council directed administration to continue with a public engagement process to solicit feedback on the Imagine Chatham-Kent proposal in its presented form. Administration was also directed to begin a due diligence process to determine capital cost estimates of the Community Hub and Entertainment Complex, in conjunction with a review of the proposal’s scope and assumptions. Information will be reported back to Council at a later date.


Public Feedback

This area is available for members of the public to provide comment until 4pm on Friday, July 15, 2022. Please share your initial thoughts, concerns, or ideas regarding the Imagine Chatham-Kent proposal.

A Frequently Asked Questions area has been prepared on the right side of this screen (scroll down if on mobile). The FAQ will be updated should information be available to address questions posed on this forum. 

A summary of the Public Feedback will be provided to Council in a future report.

You need to be signed in to comment in this Guest Book. Click here to Sign In or Register to get involved

Congratulations to a committed team of investors for getting more conversations about ways to revitalize Chatham.
But this conversation does not Imagine Chatham KENT.
Like a great black hole, the concept for the DCC will suck the amenities from surrounding communities.

Here is a small example of how Chatham works. A generous Grant was received to build 10 pickle ball courts in CK. Consultations were done and it was proposed that five different communities (including Chatham) would each get two courts. (Erieau was not on the list because when their residents wanted pickle ball they raised money to build their own courts.) Four of the named communities were delighted to be on the list - but Chatham wanted at least six courts. Surely being given two "free" courts they could follow the Erieau example and raise funds themselves for additional courts. But that is not the Chatham mentality.
Now as Chatham contemplates bigger grander municipal offices, small personal-service municipal centres in surrounding communities are in danger of being closed. A sop of "a person on a desk in a library" is being offered as a possibility. No thank you.
Please make this trend of "everything in Chatham " an election issue. Let's Imagine Chatham-KENT in October.

Marlee Robinson 5 months ago

We are fortunate in Chatham-Kent to have businesses and government collaborate to create exciting new opportunities for its citizens.
However, these anticipated developments do raise questions and concerns.
Specifically, it is unclear what will happen to the Kiwanis Theatre.
The Kiwanis Club of Chatham-Kent and the Chatham Kiwanis Music Festival have been associated with the Kiwanis Theatre for several decades.
It is a midsize multi use live performance space boasting excellent acoustics, a sloped floor, dressing room, lighting and comfortable seating. Thus, it has been attractive to not only the Chatham Kiwanis Music Festival's Grand Concerts, but also to many community groups including Theatre Kent and the Sears Drama Festival. The city's own website notes the Theatre is "also rented by a number of national and regional performers who represent professional entertainment".
The Capitol Theatre, while impressive, is simply too large and too expensive to be a realistic substitute.
Further, the Kiwanis Theatre holds cultural value and significance and is part ot the fabric which makes Chatham-Kent special.
We ask that Council provide more clarity on the future of the Kiwanis Theatre. We respectfully request to be part of that process to determine that the Kiwanis Theatre or a comparable facility be available in Chatham-Kent.
Sincerely,
Julie Collins
Co-Chair Chatham Kiwanis Music Festival
On behalf of The Kiwanis Club of Chatham-Kent

juliamc 5 months ago

Excellent concept, and I hope it moves forward. Kudos to those involved.

Steliam 5 months ago

Just another oversold financial boondoggle waiting to fall in taxpayers laps! Still waiting for the “crowds of people” coming from Toronto to the Capitol Theatre, the millions of dollars from the Chinese impressed by the St. Joe’s Hospital/nursing home or the Railroad to Nowhere creating 100’s of well-paid jobs in Wallaceburg, There may be 100,000 people in Chatham Kent, but the folks out in Kent have their own community hubs in Blenheim, Highgate and Bothwell etc.. Isn’t Chatham running out of services to cut in Kent to pay for another “dream” project in the small town of Chatham? Those 4,000 seats may be filled once at the “grand opening” and never again. Downsize our bloated and overpaid administration, repair the current Municipal Building, repair the Erickson arena, attract some decent jobs and shopping opportunities and take off the rose-coloured glasses. Linda H.

Linda Hind 5 months ago

Although I feel that downtown Chatham especially the old DCC and Sears needs a entire makeover, I feel it is very important that council do it's due diligence before committing to this project. I'm not certain a new library space is needed. I would recommend a proposal for more family oriented activities instead of an enlarged library. Parking would be a huge problem as well. When the Capital Theatre hosts something there is not enough parking available downtown so I can see this being a problem. One refurbished parking garage is not going to be adequate. This decision will impact generations to come. I believe council should defer this decision until after the municipal election. Haste makes waste.

SummerGirl65 5 months ago

Personally, I think that we are jumping into something sight unseen. Does something need to be done to bring people back to the downtown core? Sure, but is this really the right project for that area? I have my doubts. I don't think this has been carefully studied, researched or planned, and it's going to end up being another large expense just like the Capitol Theatre and a lot of other projects in Chatham.

We may need an arena, but this is not the place to put it, it should be some place highly accessible to in town players and guests. This would be better suited just off the Bloomfield close to the Industrial Park where people have access right off the 401, two major hotels are near and where they won't be congested in the downtown core.

From what I can see, this project just lines the pockets of Tetreault, Myers, Tsirimbis, Nydam and Bullock. They are truly the only ones that would benefit from this project which is why they're pushing so hard to do it.

RavishingRaven 5 months ago

I don’t not agree with tax payers paying to build a new arena for a hockey team
I do not see any benefits for anyone living outside of Chatham
All we see is our services get cut in the rural areas and Chatham needs to have everything

If investors want a new arena let them fund it
If private investors won’t build it that’s because it’s not profitable.
So why should we the taxpayers be left with another financial drain similar to the capitol theatre
Enough is enough
Thankyou
Dave Vaughan

Davevaughan 5 months ago

Where is the firehall going to go? Rebuild the civic centre maybe incorporating the existing building and the vacant lot next to the Kent Club. Let’s make use of the valuable riverfront property, public docks etc. Chatham on the Thames. If the DCC was a viable business plan then the developers would move ahead and make it happen instead of relaying on taxpayers to fund it. Entertainment complexes arenas rock walls are the flavour of the day in the same way that the downtown mall was in the 80’s. This plan has no “hubs” to include the rest of Chatham Kent in fact they are fighting to keep their offices open. Our legacy project shouldn’t leave our children and grandchildren cleaning up the mess.

Chathamtaxpayer 5 months ago

The new downtown project should be deferred to next council. If a new civic centre is to be incorporated in this downtown proposal what is going to happen to the fire hall attached to the old civic centre? My fear is a new 20 million dollar Taj Mahal (fire hall)will be built on the south side of the rail way tracks. Maybe is firefighters are made to work 8 hour shifts instead of 24 hr shifts a shed style building could be built for less than 1 million dollars . In regards to a major A hockey team please get a long term contract signed before the taxpayers of chatham Kent subsidize the junior A team, 6 years ago council was told that 60 events a year were needed to break even.
Leon Leclair

Leon Leclair 5 months ago

A decision should be deferred to the next council. Current council cannot make any promises as to what will happen after the election.
Maybe the CC can be sold to a private interest group who can turn it into an Arts Centre with a smaller theatre and rehearsal space and storage areas and studios

burnt65 5 months ago

While the idea of invigorating the downtown core is exciting and certainly will attract business, the opportunity cost of this is the financial burden on our small community. This community with a growing elderly population and homelessness. Individuals on fixed incomes, and small businesses trying to make a profit. Where those who are just getting by will be further oppressed by inflation. Ideas and creating funding will be needed, as the cost of this can not lay on the average citizen who just cannot afford this.

TSLN 5 months ago

A few thoughts and concerns on the proposed transformation not just in the downtown but everywhere surplus to requirement properties are to be disposed of in Chatham. It is to be hoped this is not a done deal because there are too many unanswered questions.
The mayor says he doesn't know what the project will do to local property taxes. He does have a dilemma. If no studies or reports have been produced how would he? Why would the municipality pass ratepayer dollars to the investors that own the property if the ratepayers (that are the lifeblood of the city) are not guaranteed a return, say in lower taxes or a dividend cheque?
Why does the city need a 4,000 seat arena paid for by taxpayers? If an OHL team wants to play in Chatham they can make proposals to the city. Chatham shouldn't be chasing a team hat in hand. How many ratepayers could care less if an OHL team comes to the city? What percentage return on the millions of taxpayer dollars for an arena can a hockey team possibly provide?
Has an actual costing been done to show how much money will be saved but selling off "surplus" properties and condensing their function into a single location or is it just, "Oh we'll save money."? Will the services provided on those properties be as accessible in a downtown location? I believe 150 surplus properties were mentioned. That's a lot of real estate and worth a fortune in value paid for by ratepayers over the last 180 years. Will the sale of those properties cover the cost of the downtown project so the ratepayers are not out of pocket? Should they be used for that purpose? Will there be excess funds that could go back to ratepayers as lower taxes or all CK citizens as a dividend cheque?
How will the transactions of those properties be policed to make sure the ratepayers receive the full market value and who will decide what that value is? Real estate in Chatham has risen significantly in the last few years. It would be a boon Chatham's finances and the ratepayers that live in it, and financed it for that 180 years. By all means let the developers and other connected parties purchase those properties at fair market value. They may even bid in competition to each other as there seems to be lots of money to be made in property development in Chatham. One hopes no accords are not struck to provide only a single interested party bidding on each property.
This undertaking is much more important than putting an arena downtown. Handled properly it could be a wonderful opportunity to benefit everyone in CK not just a select few. Thank you for this chance to address these concerns in a public forum and one that will be closely examined by council before decisions are undertaken. V Pfaff

pvp 5 months ago

Please find a way to make this project a go! It is exactly what Chatham-Kent needs. It is well thought out and includes something for everyone.

Violet 5 months ago

I think this would be Amazing for Chatham-kent as long as it goes through. Chatham kent needs this, I’ve heard so many times how people want to move out of Chatham because it’s a dump and there nothing here well here it is and now people wanna turn it away unbelievable, Go for it!!! Make a difference in our Community for once, something to look forward too and new things to do, more things for our Children and Family’s. 1 request make it a double ice pad!

Lyndsie Copeland 5 months ago

Chatham kent can NOT afford or keep this operating- We Can NOT afford for our taxes to go up again- seniors and low income families can't find housing, seniors can't afford to live and wait times for senior apartments are 2-4 year wait. IF taxes go up again they will be homeless as they just can't afford to live anymore-- HOW many chatham kent people have been inside the capitol theater? we have gone to just a couple shows- because the price is too high and most of the time the theater is half empty. So you will do what you want to do anyways but think for ALL of us not just the priveleged who want this- think of those already struggling to pay their bills and can't afford taxes to go higher for this- now if you build more affordable housing in all small towns for those than taxes will be doing something for the good

farm mom 1970 5 months ago

The whole arena downtown is not a good thought-out plan- I was never in support of a new arena- BUT if you are going to do it DO IT RIGHT_-DOUBLE ice pad- so we can host big hockey tournaments and figure skating competitions- never has chatham been able to be on the list to host a skating competition as we don't have a double ice pad- swimming pools, fitness rooms, rock climbing wall, childrens play place, indoor playing field, trampoline park etc etc.. downtown is NOT the place for an arena- already congested and parking will NOT be easy- We already have 2 theaters - what about them???? We need more entertainment for family- family fun zones- stuff for teens to do- laser tag, go karts, childrens activities like the wild zone- we never did get to go to the escape rooms as covid hit- would love one of those again. We need BETTER shopping in chatham- for children and teens and even us parents clothes shopping is very limited- seems mostly low or high end- we need more " mall" stores in chatham so we don't have to drive out of town always to shop for our kids- shoe stores are limited here. I also hate to see the museum and library up town- They are perfectly fine where they are- .. and like someone else said- the library is easily accessable for people- I don't want to park in a parking garage to just go to the library. And what about the rest of chatham kent? The samll towns lose out again- why not make this fabulous new double pad arena in blenheim or ridgetown- make chatham leave chatham instead of small town people having to drive to chatham all the time

farm mom 1970 5 months ago

My comments are regarding the proposed Arena / Entertainment centre.
Another council term has come and gone and nothing has happened regarding Memorial Arena .
It is appalling the way this has been handled over the past by previous Councils.
Promises made , promises broken and Memorial Arena continues to be demolished by deterioration.
Maybe the NEXT council will actually do something.
So here we are election year 2022 and we have a new proposal .
My biggest concern is what is this total proposal going to cost the citizens of Chatham. I say Chatham because the comments have already started that “ Chatham gets everything , the rest of the Municipality gets nothing but still has to pay!
Total cost plus my concern about the arena are my two biggest concerns.
I am concerned about the arena proposal primarily as it relates to the Chatham Maroons?
Memorial Arena has a capacity of 2,412 spectators, the new proposal as I understand is 4,000.
The Jr “ A” rumours continue to swirl however a minimum of 6,000 is required for a franchise to be brought to Chatham.
What will the costs be to the Maroons and other users for ice time? Are costs going to double because size is doubling?
Will the Maroons have a dedicated dressing room which they have now.
*** Please remember that the current ownership paid half the cost plus looked after the building of the dressing room***
Given the location and layout of the proposed complex will there be an indoor parking area for visiting team or entertainer motor coaches?
What will happen to the Maroons if a Jr A franchise is moved to Chatham? In no other SW Ontario city that has an A franchise is there an arena that houses both!
I sincerely hope that there are serious discussions held with the Szekesy’s plus other organizations about their requirements.
The Maroon Alumni and the CSHOF have both invested heavily in Memorial Arena with their “Legends on Ice” and hall of Fame displays .
Both should be moved to this Complex or to the next proposal that comes along!
Is Federal / Provincial money available for this Arena complex because of the private / public makeup of this group?
Do not let another term go by without a replacement for Memorial go by!
If it does you could very well known as the Council that caused the Maroons to be moved to another smaller Community that already has a new modern facility just waiting for a Jr B franchise .
I would love to be involved to be part of the process as it relates to the arena.
I was the representative for the Torrie Family when the Thames Campus complex was being planned.
But the Mayor and Council of the day screwed this proposal up and only one ice pad was built.
We do not have a good track record in this this City, please let this be the time we can celebrate the opening of a twin pad complex like the party is planned for the replacement of a new bridge.
Sorry, I forgot it’s an election year isn’t it!

Tom Heath

Tom Heath 5 months ago

I say do it! It only has benefits for our community and we've needed this for a very very long time. Kudos to this team for seeing the potential in our wonderful community!!

Torts 5 months ago

The proposal for Downtown Chatham Centre looks good in general, BUT what about the Kiwanis Theatre? Nothing has been said about relocating or including it in these plans. As many comments have already been said, money has been included in all ticket sales for the last 10 years or so as part of a Theatre Improvement Fund - what happens to it? Where are community groups like Theatre Kent supposed to perform? TK has been very active for over 40 years involving and entertaining the people of the entire municipality - even with all of these dedicated volunteers, we still cannot afford to use the Capitol Theatre for most productions due to expenses being tied to the size of the venue - the 4000 seat venue mentioned in this plan will definitely NOT be affordable. Sure, it's nice to have the larger venues with all of the bells and whistles but the Kiwanis Theatre is a much more intimate setting that should be maintained.
Other concerns - what is the rush? Why does this current Council need to make this decision when some of them might not even be part of the Council in a few months?

I respectfully request that the decision regarding the Downtown Chatham Centre be DEFERRED until more information is gathered and questions answered.

Gina

Gina 5 months ago

It appears good but need details on costin and impact on existing services

Ormalyttle 5 months ago
Page last updated: 03 Nov 2022, 10:03 AM