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Old Posted Jun 8, 2009, 3:15 PM
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Shoppers wants to lease site of former Rona Site

Shoppers wants to lease site of former Rona

Plans call for two-storey big box store on King St.

Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News Staff

Published on May 29, 2009

After five months of denying any interest in an empty downtown Dundas property, Shoppers Drug Mart admits it hopes to lease the former Rona site at King Street West and Albert Street to build a big box store.

Draft plans call for a two-storey building with 14,000 square feet of retail space, plus offices and storage on the main floor and offices on a second floor.

The proposed building’s total size is not yet known, as negotiations to secure a long-term lease continue.

Construction of the new big box store downtown would mean closing the existing downtown Dundas Shoppers store at 105 King St. W. But the company still has many hurdles to clear.

Formal consultation With permission from the property’s owner –a corporation run by three Toronto lawyers –Shoppers hired Ancaster planning consultant Ed Fothergill to meet with City of Hamilton planning staff for formal consultation on a possible development application.

Jason Thompson of the city’s planning department said it will take at least three weeks before staff is ready to meet with Mr. Fothergill.

Any issues with developing the site will be discussed at that meeting, including any studies that will be required if Shoppers decides to pursue the project –and the property owners give their permission.

“No approvals are granted,” Mr. Thompson said about the consultation.

Issues which could be reviewed include the size of the proposed building, access to the site and road-widening.

There have also been reports of flooding problems on Albert Street.

Mr. Thompson doesn’t anticipate any official plan amendments will be required, but minor variances may be needed. There will likely be questions about how any new structure will fit into the downtown Dundas streetscape.

Mr. Fothergill directed a reporter to his client, Shoppers Drug Mart development coordinator Peter Kulkarni. But Mr. Kulkarni said he is only involved in development applications and because no applications have been submitted in this case, he has no information on the proposal.

Shoppers does not yet have a lease or permission from the property owners to submit a planning application. With no agreements in place, Shoppers officials are slow to reveal much information. Construction of a new store in Dundas is still not part of the Shoppers Drug Mart 2009 operating or capital plans.

Shoppers spokesperson Tammy Smitham said it’s common for the national company to build on property owned by someone else.

“The majority of our stores are long-term leases,” Ms. Smitham said.

Ms. Smitham did not say who would own the building itself, the property owners or Shoppers Drug Mart. She refused to say whether or not Shoppers would follow a restrictive covenant placed on the property by Rona prior to its sale, which limits what can be sold there, or if it planned to challenge it. Ms. Smitham also would not say if there would be any impacts on any of the other area Shoppers Drug Mart locations.

“We cannot comment on real estate proceedings until they are final,” Ms. Smitham said. “We do not, as a policy, comment on speculations or rumours.”

Sylvia Adriano, Kenneth Prehogan and Wayne Rosenman bought 135 King St. W. from Rona on Feb. 13 for $1.6 million. All three are lawyers at the firm WeirFoulds in Toronto. They have refused to answer any questions about their Dundas property. Ms. Adriano often represents Wal-Mart Canada in real estate matters.
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