A lighting company employee removes the neon Zellers sign from the back of the store on Tuesday afternoon. Zellers’ last day of business was March 16. The store on Third Avenue is now empty.

City hopeful to fill old Zellers building

Zellers closed its doors for the last time on March 16. But the move doesn’t mean the city has shut the door on finding a replacement tenant

Zellers closed its doors for the final time on Saturday, March 16. But the move doesn’t mean the city has shut the door on finding a replacement tenant or owner for the three-storey building that takes up a city block on Third Avenue at Mar Street.

“There is continuing interest in the building and there have been a couple of (questions) with regards to zoning,” city economic development manager Pat Deakin said.

“We’re slowly making progress.”

The building and four acres of parking lot is zoned commercial (CMX), “which has an amazing number of potential uses. It’s pretty broad,” Deakin said.

The intent of the CMX zoning is to maintain a “vibrant and healthy mixed use area,” he said.

Deakin has entertained three recent queries about affordable housing, but said the people inquiring were looking at the parking lots and not so much at the building.

The city has had a range of inquiries—everything from retail to a mix of retail and residential, seniors’ residences above and services such as chiropractor or optometrist below.

“I do remain optimistic that it will be purchased and that we will see a use in there.”

Two other large buildings for sale in the South Port area are also catching the attention of potential developers or investors, Deakin said. Two people have approached the city about the lot on Third Avenue vacated by Home Hardware (which moved to the old Alberni Mall on upper Johnston Road).

The other large building is the former Canada Post federal building on Argyle Street across from city hall. Deakin didn’t have any recent information on offers for that building.

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