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New owner aims to redevelop historic Eaton's building

The 81-year-old building currently has one tenant.
Eatons winter 2019
Eaton's operated a department store at Red River Road and Court St. from 1938 to 1997. The building is now mostly vacant (Tbnewswatch)

THUNDER BAY The new, locally-based owner of Thunder Bay's former Eaton's department store building hopes to attract a range of new tenants over the next few years.

Right now, the 190,000 square-foot property at Red River Road and Court Street has only one tenant, a fitness facility.

Under its current C-5 Central Business District zoning, the building can accommodate retail, office and even residential functions.

A spokesperson for the ownership group, who requested anonymity, told Tbnewswatch he's trying to find "the right fits for the downtown" by leasing either to new entrepreneurs or individuals who want to expand an existing business. 

"If the businesses that go in there are successful, then the development will be successful," he said.

He added that a number of parties have expressed interest, and some have signed letters of intent.

Eaton's opened the building in 1938 and operated there until 1997.

Definitely Superior, a tenant in the building for more than 20 years, relocated earlier this year to the former Cumberland Cinema Centre on North Cumberland Street.

The property has also housed numerous other users over the years, including call centres.

Jim Comuzzi, chair of the Waterfront District Business Improvement Area, said it's a positive sign that the building is under local ownership.

"It's not going to be absentee ownership. They have a lot of plans already that would have people going into the builidng. I'm sure we'll start to see activity there in the coming months," Comuzzi said.

He said he sees the redevelopment as an essential component of revitalizing the north downtown core.


Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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