Former Navistar site sold

Former Navistar site in Chatham (Screengrab via Darrin Canniff Facebook)

After several years of sitting idle, the former Navistar site in Chatham officially has a new owner.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Darrin Canniff announced on social media that the property, located at 508 Richmond St., was purchased by “local business people.”

The plant was officially closed in 2011 and demolition of the facility began in late 2013.

Since then the property has remained vacant. At one point, it was touted as the perfect location for the new arena by Build the Complex CK, a local group that petitioned for the building of a multi-use sports complex in Chatham.

A similar idea was also backed by former mayor Randy Hope, who has pushed to see the land used for a multi-use recreation facility and a transportation hub.

Canniff shared few details about the new owners and their plans for the site, only saying he was thrilled with the purchase and calling it an exciting day for Chatham-Kent.

“What this means to Chatham-Kent is this can now be developed,” said Canniff. “I’m looking forward to hearing all the exciting plans from the new local owners. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be waiting earnestly to hear from them. They will share all the wonderful opportunities they see here.”

Blackburn News has reached out to Canniff for comment.

In an emailed statement, Director of Economic Development Stuart McFadden said the municipality won’t be sharing any more details for the time being.

“Out of a great deal of respect for the confidentiality the group has requested, we won’t be making any comments on the sale of the former Navistar site until they are ready to come forward,” said McFadden.

In July 2019, council directed staff to complete environmental testing on the municipally-owned lands that form the perimeter of the Navistar site.

A report that went to council in January 2020 stated that “the risk related to detected chemical exceedances is expected to be manageable. No further work is recommended or required to address the report findings at this time.”