Storage facility eyed to fill vacancy in former Target building

Former target building on Grand Ave West in Chatham (Via Google Maps)

Seven years after Target closed in Chatham, a plan is being proposed to fill some of the remaining vacant space at the Grand Avenue West location.

Up for council approval Monday night, is a by-law amendment to rezone the property to allow public storage to be permitted.

The property is located at the northeast corner of Keil Drive North and Grand Avenue West intersection in the Thames Lea Plaza.

The building was previously home to big-box retail store Target. However, it was left vacant in March 2015 when Target Canada announced that it was ceasing operations in the country, just two years after entering the Canadian market.

Six months later, an application was approved to sever the former Target store from the rest of the plaza to create a separate building in the hopes of attracting more retailers.

Since then, two units inside the building have become occupied by grocery store Mercato Fresh and fitness club Planet Fitness. According to the staff report coming to council, 56,785 sq. ft remains vacant between the two businesses and the property has not been fully leased since Target closed in 2015.

“This challenge is a result of the relatively large size of the commercial space and certain limitations in converting the space into smaller commercial units,” the report stated. “As well, other established commercial nodes in Chatham have attracted retailers requiring a larger space who would otherwise be the ideal tenants for the commercial space remaining on the subject lands. The commercial retail sector has also been experiencing a shift in demand due to the prominence of online retailers whereby vacant commercial space is becoming less desirable in general.”

In an effort to make the property more viable for the applicant and for the community of Chatham-Kent overall, the proposal is to expand on the uses permitted at the property. The proposal is to specifically permit an indoor, secure, climate-controlled public storage facility, which zoning does not currently permit at the property. According to the report, the intent is for approximately 35,000 sq. ft. to be permitted for this specific use.

Former Target floor plan (Via the Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

Former Target floor plan (Via the Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

“The proposal to add public storage as an additional permitted use on the subject property is a response to the shift in the retail market sector,” read the report. “As stated above, the commercial space at the subject property has remained underutilized since 2015 when a major retail tenant (Target) last occupied most of the available commercial space. Since that time a large portion of the gross floor commercial area has remained vacant.”