Former south-end Barrie Target gets new lease on life
Todd Armstrong, from the Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce, plays with the echoes reverberating throughout the 150,000-square-foot former Target store in the city's south end. The chamber moved into the space back in late June after suffering a flood at their previous location. Other ventures are also planned for the Park Place building. MARK WANZEL/PHOTO
Echoes of former shoppers in the empty Target building will soon be replaced by the screams of childhood laughter.
The 127,000 square-foot facility is being chopped up into half-a-dozen different good-sized retail units because no larger vendors were interested, said Park Place official, Terry Coughlin.
As a managing partner of the North American Development Group that oversees retail outlets at Park Place – where the former Molson Brewery was located – Coughlin said he couldn’t fill the large, empty box store after Target cut and ran from the Canadian marketplace in April 2015.
“Most tenants couldn’t take it from front to back, so we’ve carved out a big piece of the back for X-Play, an entertainment activity business,” Coughlin said.
X-Play has several locations stateside, Coughlin said, and said its company will use the high-ceilinged warehouse for its trampoline and laser-tag recreation facility.
Coughlin said he has tried to entice large vendors, such as Ikea to take the bait, but it won’t nibble.
“We have a relationship with Ikea and we’ve tried to push them on Barrie, but they’ve got four stores in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Now that they know having more than one store in a market won’t cannibalize their business, they’ve said they’ll open a second store in other markets before they’ll consider southern Ontario,” Coughlin said.
But the Target facility isn’t sitting empty.
After a flood destroyed the Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce office on Toronto Street on the Canada Day long weekend, its staff shuffled down into the Target offices that have been sitting empty since last November.
George Bryson, business development manager at the chamber, said they’re enjoying their temporary locale.
“It’s great for now. It’s so huge, we could have a ball-hockey tournament in here,” Bryson said with a laugh.
A faulty toilet had flooded the century building during the course of the weekend and ruined the office where Barrie’s business management had been located for almost 12 years.
In addition to being a neat place to set up shop temporarily, the chamber has joined forces with Georgian College and the City of Barrie to run a Train and Technology Expo on Nov. 16 in the former Target warehouse facility.
“It’s going to be an exposé of technology,” said the chamber’s CEO Rod Jackson. “Our goal is to expose kids from grade school, high school and college to technology. A lot of kids don’t understand what technology really means.”
Jackson said the chamber is pulling together the exposition to showcase fields of digital design, analytics, robotics and even assisted living.
“We want to show the breadth of technology careers that are out there. And hopefully help build some synergies for technology businesses so they’ll know what other companies are in Barrie and what’s out there,” he said.