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

While this proposal seems great I can’t help but wonder what will happen with the empty buildings?

Shawn smith 5 months ago

Just do it I can only remember how long and how much time was wasted in Windsor about the new hospital please just make the decision to do it as we need something positive thanks to those with this great idea

M J 5 months ago

My concern is accessibility if all these services are combined in one large area .
Right now I can park my vehicle behind the library and walk just a few steps to the door to enter the building. At the Civic Centre , it is just a few steps from parking spots to the front entrance. The Thames Theatre has direct access from their parking lot to a side entrance to avoid the stairs at the main entrance. The Capital Theatre has a drop off access at the front door and parking very close by the front door . The Memorial Arena also has a drop off at their entrance with plenty of parking close to the entrance .

In rainy or snowy winter weather , better access may be a priority consideration . Many people are uncomfortable or unable to walk on icy walkways to access this large area . Has wheelchair accessibility been factored in to these plans ? Even small children are unable to walk long distances to gain access . Many people now avoid malls because of the walking in involved especially if the one store where they want to shop is in the middle of the mall. . The strip malls with direct access to each store seem to be much busier with customers.
At the moment i do not see where any consideration has been given to make this project accessible to all ages and their mobility differences .

Loel Cross 5 months ago

My concern is accessibility if all these services are combined in one large area .
Right now I can park my vehicle behind the library and walk just a few steps to the door to enter the building. At the Civic Centre , it is just a few steps from parking spots to the front entrance. The Thames Theatre has direct access from their parking lot to a side entrance to avoid the stairs at the main entrance. The Capital Theatre has a drop off access at the front door and parking very close by the front door . The Memorial Arena also has a drop off at their entrance with plenty of parking close to the entrance .

In rainy or snowy winter weather , better access may be a priority consideration . Many people are uncomfortable or unable to walk on icy walkways to access this large area . Has wheelchair accessibility been factored in to these plans ? Even small children are unable to walk long distances to gain access . Many people now avoid malls because of the walking in involved especially if the one store where they want to shop is in the middle of the mall. . The strip malls with direct access to each store seem to be much busier with customers.
At the moment i do not see where any consideration has been given to make this project accessible to all ages and their mobility differences .

Loel Cross 5 months ago

My concern is accessibility if all these services are combined in one large area .
Right now I can park my vehicle behind the library and walk just a few steps to the door to enter the building. At the Civic Centre , it is just a few steps from parking spots to the front entrance. The Thames Theatre has direct access from their parking lot to a side entrance to avoid the stairs at the main entrance. The Capital Theatre has a drop off access at the front door and parking very close by the front door . The Memorial Arena also has a drop off at their entrance with plenty of parking close to the entrance .

In rainy or snowy winter weather , better access may be a priority consideration . Many people are uncomfortable or unable to walk on icy walkways to access this large area . Has wheelchair accessibility been factored in to these plans ? Even small children are unable to walk long distances to gain access . Many people now avoid malls because of the walking in involved especially if the one store where they want to shop is in the middle of the mall. . The strip malls with direct access to each store seem to be much busier with customers.
At the moment i do not see where any consideration has been given to make this project accessible to all ages and their mobility differences .

Loel Cross 5 months ago

wondering what is going to happen to the business that are already in the mall? Midwives office they need to me in a place that everyone women can be able to get to the office and they also need to be close to the hospital.

Also think that it would be nice to have another place other than Walmart to shop at. Not having any shopping stories here in town make people leave and spend money in other cities and not Chatham. Also not looking forward to driving out of town for the two min ring cleaning that i have to do two times a year so my warranty that i paid for wont be void.

Also just another thing that they think will give families something to do together! guess what kids do not want to go to our LITTLE chatham museum unless it get way BETTER.

Maybe should have thoughy about what chatham as a hole would want and not just what these few men want!

this commenting is most likely a waste of time because at the end of the day money will take more than any one of our vioces ever will

asp 5 months ago

wondering what is going to happen to the business that are already in the mall? Midwives office they need to me in a place that everyone women can be able to get to the office and they also need to be close to the hospital.

Also think that it would be nice to have another place other than Walmart to shop at. Not having any shopping stories here in town make people leave and spend money in other cities and not Chatham. Also not looking forward to driving out of town for the two min ring cleaning that i have to do two times a year so my warranty that i paid for wont be void.

Also just another thing that they think will give families something to do together! guess what kids do not want to go to our LITTLE chatham museum unless it get way BETTER.

Maybe should have thoughy about what chatham as a hole would want and not just what these few men want!

this commenting is most likely a waste of time because at the end of the day money will take more than any one of our vioces ever will

asp 5 months ago

I called Chatham home for a number of years so I’d like to provide a bit of insider/outsider perspective. I think one priority should be the art gallery space and the community programming that goes along with that such as the classes and creative making spaces that go along with it. Art creates culture and culture brings economics through tourism and community activities. I can’t emphasize enough what a gem the Thames Art gallery is to the city. It should be a cornerstone of the new proposal. And the variety of courses and summer programming offered In It’s maker/creative spaces is unlike anything else offered around the area. Why is this not being championed? It is unfortunate that that mall was built in the first place. It is a behemoth of a building-heavy, closed and unwelcoming. A fantastic gallery filled with art and a vibrant active creative space would contribute in a positive way. Art=culture=fiscal dollars spent by tourists. Art classes=exposure to try new things=creative thinkers=better in school and future jobs. The last two years of COVID have taught us that we need more in our lives. Please rethink this plan and expand the gallery and creative studios. You are so wrong to cut

Cslynch 5 months ago

Dear Mayor and council,
if you build the world's greatest commercial center in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, it will fail. You need either a large local population to sustain it OR a large volume of through-traffic. Chatham has neither. If businesses buy space here and end up not being able to pay the bills, those businesses will close up shop. You'll end up with either a high turnover rate or a high vacancy rate which will end up making this a very depressing place that nobody wants to visit, basically making this whole project a monument of superfluous spending. You have to ask yourselves: what is Chatham all about? Ask why people want to come to Chatham *NOW*, and build on those strengths. I get that you want to expand into new places, but people don't use the resources that are there NOW, so why would building a shinier version of what's available change anything? I see a general lack of anything unique (as in: anything that nobody else does well) in the proposed spaces which leads me to ask: why would people come here when there's a better version and more involved community (not to mention larger local population) for it a short drive up the road?

Toby 5 months ago

Dear Mayor, and council
There are families unable to afford housing, unable to afford nutritious meals, working part time jobs at minimum wage. Our seniors are lacking appropriate housing and care. Libraries in our small communities being threatened with closures, schools needing upgrades to run safely. And yet you want to invest our tax dollars in entertainment and luxury housing. There are already great facilities available for both. If this group of investors want to take on this project, let them do so, but not with our tax dollars. It is a lovely concept, but not the responsibility of taxpayers. Time for some commonsense budgeting.

Rhondam 5 months ago

Dear Mayor and Council:
The decision as to the future of the former Downtown Chatham Centre (DCC) is in your hands. My hope is that all council can realize, recognize and be in cohesion when it comes to doing the right thing for downtown Chatham. It is long overdue that we take back our beautiful street and welcome visitors from far and wide.
Progressive thinking is required….let’s let go of the days of the past which seems is always brought up. Be it Harrison Hall, the Capital Theatre or any building for that matter. Nothing lasts forever and the former Sears space is a rock solid building with over 88,000 square feet. The city hall is just 33,000 square feet and is in dire need of massive renovations. It was built as a city hall for the former city of Chatham, not for an amalgamated municipality. Let’s get as much under one roof as possible. It isn’t just the Library, there are a lot of other departments such as Economic Development and the Health Unit that should be under one roof.
I say, unabashedly, that there is no doubt a move to a renovated DCC space that is brand new is the right move. The money saved and sale of the properties will far exceed the purchase of a new 88,000 square foot building….built to the specifications set by council.
Do I agree with the entertainment aspect, not necessarily, however if it includes some fun activities as stated, like rock climbing, roller skating and other things “TO DO” for our children and grandchildren….I am all in.
I have never believed in the force feeding of positivity. Positivity comes with prosperity and seeing that things are happening that are moving our communities within Chatham-Kent forward. Every community deserves to prosper….and….I hope council will remember that this is something that we need as a community. We have people from all over moving here….let’s keep them here….and bring even more.

A modern facility is what we need at a central and easily accessible space. Let's recognize our past, while embracing a very bright future.

Lynn 5 months ago

It’s a definite that our downtown mall needs revitalization, but at what cost? And are the proposed moves of municipal buildings into the space a wise choice? There are a lot of questions that need answering before this becomes a done deal. I live in the The Tecumseh Park neighbourhood and am impacted by many summertime events there, not by choice. If there is any chance that the proposed project impacts my neighbourhood such as overflow parking for the facility, I’ll be totally against it. If you were in or near the park last weekend, you’d know what my issues are. The park may as well become a paved parking lot. If events held in the park can be transferred into the proposed complex and adequate parking be provided , then different story. Maybe then Tecumseh Park can be reinstated as a “park” with green grass, trees and flowerbeds, maybe even a water feature as it had back in the early 2000’s. The fair way to decide the fate of the proposed project would be to put it on the fall ballot.

Peedee 5 months ago

CK is our Community and we are all Partners in determining how our tax dollars are spent to build or renovate the Civic Center, Main Branch of the Library and an arena. In order to exercise our right to civic engagement, the proper procedures must be followed, with plenty of time for feedback, consultation and planning. This could be a great project if the people of Chatham-Kent know all the facts. Let’s consider the following:
1. Defer the decision to do anything with this project until a new council is in place and complete plans and costs can be shown to the community with time for community input.
2. Decisions for this project need to fall in line with the community needs of all Chatham-Kent (not just Chatham, but Bothwell to Wheatley; Wallaceburg to Ridgetown). Don’t close other centres community hubs and arenas and expect people to come to Chatham.
3. Explain to all taxpayers as to the costs, what we get for our money and the real possibility of property tax increases.
4. Impact on various community groups: Theatre Kent, Artspace, minor sports associations etc that seem to be left out of this proposal.
Paul Bourdeau

Paul Bourdeau 5 months ago

While I am supportive of the majority of this plan, I am skeptical that key information is being left out. Once again it seems the city is trying to push a new arena on tax payers while ignoring the arts.

As someone who has been a huge advocate for the arts in Chatham-Kent over the past decade, I know first hand what an uphill battle it is in this city. While other cities are embracing the performing arts as an important revenue generator and cultural gem for their cities, Chatham would rather do report after report on more sports.

The Kiwanis Theatre is really the only medium size venue in the municipality and for many, it’s the only one that’s decently affordable. You cannot just have a one size fits all with the Capitol and call it a day. That venue is too large for many small town projects, who either can’t afford the cost, or don’t require that many seats.

The Kiwanis Theatre should be not only kept off the chopping block but the city should actually INVEST in these assets. For those of you who have been around for the whole “new seat” promises know exactly how committed the city is to this venue.

- Devon Hansen
Owner, Chatham Music Academy
Music Director, St Andrews United Church

Devonhansen 5 months ago

Looking forward to some revitalization for the downtown core of Chatham. Please consider including an indoor soccer facility that can be used during the fall / winter months. This can be utilized by both youth and adult teams / leagues. Soccer is the 2nd most popular sport in CK, behind hockey. Having a facility for year-round soccer would allow us to compete with the bigger cities more, such as London, Sarnia, and Windsor.

karareeb 5 months ago

This should be an election issue and NOT pushed through before hand. Its too big a decision to be made in haste and without enough information. Our taxes are already going up next year why should they increase more to make 3 wealthy people even more wealthy!?

stated63 5 months ago

I like the idea of demolishing the Downtown Mall. It is an ugly eyesore. Since we don't own it, however, we shouldn't assume the responsibility for another white elephant, so we can pay to demolish it and build another white elephant. How about we repair what we have already, and not build more white elephants.

BLangford1 5 months ago

July 8, 2022
To CK Municipal Council and Mayor Canniff:
Please consider this letter as a response from the non-profit board of the Chatham Kent Arts and Culture Network (CKACN) to the proposed Downtown Chatham Centre redevelopment project.

We also respectfully request that this letter and the concerns/questions noted be considered as a deputation letter to be read at Council when the Survey results are reviewed.

While we, in general, support the overall redevelopment of the downtown mall area, we have the following questions and concerns regarding the impact on Cultural programs/operations and facilities, as a direct result of the changes proposed.

Our general concerns are as follows:

 What are the overall implications to Cultural facilities throughout all CK regarding programming, maintenance, upkeep, and annual budgets?
 What are the net and gross tax implications in a projected spreadsheet format for the overall project?
 Which cultural facilities will be closed and sold?
 In one of the many consultants’ reports regarding a large arena complex, it was noted that it would take 55 major events per year to maintain operational costs. Has this been explored as to the viability of this 4000-seat facility?
 What are the impacts regarding Memorial and Erickson arenas?

Our specific concerns/questions relating to the Chatham Cultural Centre and overall CK-wide cultural operations/facilities/programs are as follows:

 On July 14, 2003, CK Council passed by-law no. 174-2003 designating 75 William Street (Kiwanis Theatre and Thames Art Gallery) as a property of cultural heritage value and interest. If this property is sold as surplus, will Council continue to support and uphold this designation?

 What are the implications for storage and display space in the new facility for the Thames Art Gallery and CK Museum, and how will that compare to what we have now in the Chatham Cultural Centre? Will the space allocations for both be enlarged to accommodate future growth and ongoing acquisitions that are required to maintain existing cultural funding?

 Will the national standards and upper-level government funding for operations be retained? Will Council approach the Federal Governments as to maintaining the National Gallery and CK Museum environmental standards that will allow for continued federal funding if the facilities are moved?

 Will the provincial/federal environmental standards required for the collections be retained?

 Will the volunteer committees/advisory boards for the two facilities be consulted as to the move and future design/space requirements?

 Will the Provincial and Federal ministries be consulted as to standards and capital funding opportunities for the culture and recreation components?

 What will happen to the community-driven ARTspace facility and will the ARTspace volunteers be consulted?

 Could we save the Kiwanis Theatre space and continue with the 400-seat conversion from the current 700 seats as promised? A $1.00 surcharge per ticket sale was set up (over 10 years ago) to cover costs. What happens to this fund if the Kiwanis Theatre/Chatham Cultural Centre is closed?

 Could we repurpose the Chatham Cultural Centre as an arts and culture hub for community arts and culture organizations to maximize the Chatham Cultural Centre space? Could the facility be saved/converted to a community arts hub with artist studios, office rentals for cultural groups, smaller community performance groups/organizations? The Kiwanis Music Festival, Theatre Kent, National Theatre Drama Festival (previously the Sears Drama Festival), Studio One performances, matinees and other smaller events are not compatible with the 1200-seat Capitol Theatre or a 4000-seat entertainment complex. It should be noted that the cost to perform in either facility is based on royalties regarding the number of seats in each facility, not the number of people attending, plus the facility rental fee. If the Kiwanis Theatre is gone, this will impact smaller performing groups that cannot afford the enhanced royalties and some will be unable to continue their business model.

 Will the 4000-seat entertainment complex replace smaller performances at, or compete with, the existing 1200-seat Capitol Theatre facility?

 Where will the Community Box Office be located?

 What will happen to the Milner House, Ridge House Museum, and other CK Museum facilities throughout CK?

 The Chatham Cultural Centre is an iconic facility with a long history of community support and is identified as such in the Cultural Master Plan. The presentations noted that cultural facility considerations/programming will be in line with the Cultural Master Plan. How will this happen, and will the considerations be made public?

 Will there be any community in-person public consultation meetings planned in addition to the online survey?

These are our initial questions/concerns to start the cultural facilities and programs impact process regarding the proposed downtown development project. We may have more as the public consultation process moves forward.

We have not commented on the larger issues regarding the Library and Civic services components. We assume that the library patrons and library board members will comment.

Please note that the questions and concerns noted above will be sent to the Survey site as well as to Council members directly.

We encourage groups and concerned citizens to write letters outlining their concerns regarding this proposed project to the Survey format and to Council, requesting that their letters be read as a deputation.

We also plan to send this letter/submission to local media as a media release.

Thank you for your consideration of our questions and concerns.

Yours sincerely,

James Snyder MSA, Chair,
On behalf of the Chatham Kent Arts and Culture Network (links noted below)
www.ckartsandculturenetwork.com
Facebook: @ckartsandculturenetwork

cc: CKACN Board Members
Mayor and Council of Chatham Kent
Local Chatham-Kent Media
Camila Alvez, Regional Development Advisor, Ministry of Tourism
Culture & Sport
Dave Epp, MP Chatham-Kent-Leamington
Monte McNaughton, MPP Lambton-Kent-Middlesex
Trevor Jones, MPP Chatham-Kent-Leamington
Lianne Rood MP Chatham-Kent - Middlesex

Laurie Langford 5 months ago

This is a good idea for our downtown core, but must be well thought out before moving forward. A modern, central library close to all municipal services is a great idea. Removing one of our historic theatres? Terrible idea. Growing up, I regularly attended performances both through school and other events at the Kiwanis Theatre. It would be absolutely shameful to lose this cultural gem. We need to do more to promote the arts, not less.

The ideas are great in principle, but need to be fleshed out more. We are one of the only communities around without a modern twin-pad arena. Our answer is then a single 4,000 seat arena. That is badly thought out and does not reflect the modern realities of sports. If we want to attract hockey tournaments, a 4,000 arena is not going to cut it. For example, the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League hosts a yearly inter-conference showcase. For years, it has been held in an area with much more modern facilities and multiple ice pads in one facility. We are shooting ourselves in the foot of we move forward with just a single pad 4,000 seat arena. Not to mention, the Municipality partnered with the owners of the Chatham Maroons less than 10 years ago to build expanded state of the art dressing room facilities. Are we just throwing that away with this proposal? There is also a lot of local hockey history that we would be throwing away with this project.

In short, great idea in principle, but the "how we get there" remains to be seen for what we need.

I am glad we are talking about investing in our downtown, an area we have neglected for far too long. Other cities have revitalized their downtowns doing projects like this. I am glad we are finally discussing bold ideas.

jb1594 5 months ago

First off let me say that this project is the jumpstart that our downtown core desperately needs. In my opinion this area of the municipality has been sorely neglected by our current council and leadership and should be a constant source of revenue for core businesses, as it once thrived and can and will be beautiful once again. If the design and vision reflect the finished project we can celebrate our rebirth of the downtown core that I remember growing up. In recent years many aspects of King Street from William to the 3rd street bridge have fallen into decay such as old lamp posts, abandoned storefronts left in various states of decay by neglect, cracked sidewalks, etc.. all the things that make other cities similar to ours beautiful. As the example of Stratford is always shared I will reflect on it once again and if you've never been you should. I worked and ran a business on King St. for many years and know what it can be. So as I applaud this project we need to kindly remember the destruction of our beautiful Tecumseh Park Gardens and realize that as we desperately need revitalization we also need to preserve what little we have left of our historic/iconic buildings related to arts and culture. The preservation of the Cultural Centre and Public Library are two excellent references of buildings that need to remain part of creative groups that rely on these facilities such as Theatre Kent. If the Municipality has no need for them then this project will have no correlation with Arts and Culture in CK and we can only hope that they can be preserved. Enough damage to our history has already been done let's have an open discussion as to why we don't need to make it worse and work together to preserve our history while ensuring a brighter future for all of CK.

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