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Big plans for downtown as Chatelaine's Bargains building sold

'The place was almost torn down. It was going to be a parking lot. Thank God Jesse showed up' Don Chatelaine owner Chatelaine's Bargains Thrift and Consignment Store

Don Chatelaine has sold his McIntyre Street building to a North Bay buyer.

It is where he ran his business, Chatelaine's Bargains Thrift and Consignment Store, and where he lived with his family.

The building went on the market after an inspection a few months ago revealed he needed to bring the building's sprinkler system up to code, an expense he couldn't afford. 

"This building is in great shape. It needs a sprinkler system. I would have been here another 10 years but they make it so hard. People can't afford it." 

The new owner, Jesse Grimes discovered the building was for sale by chance. His wife brought him to the store after learning about an initiative of Chatelaine's inviting people to fill up a grocery bag with free items, in exchange for a donation to the food bank.  

See: Going out of business sale-bring a donation for the food bank, get a bag of items free

"So we went in there and looked around and saw that it was for sale. There were a couple other guys bickering over the price, I just happened to walk in and we're fairly new to the town and I just went 'You know what? There's a lot of potential right here," said Grimes.

"It was perfect that he showed up at the right time. I thought I was going to be stuck paying for an empty building for the whole winter, paying taxes on it and everything else. This place was almost torn down, it was going to be a parking lot. Thank God Jesse showed up, " said Chatelaine.   

The new owner says it will be a big job renovating the 21,000 square foot building.  

"When I get it December 1st, we're just going to start gutting the whole building. We're going to replace the apartments that are upstairs, we're going to fireproof the floors, we still have to have a special system in there that detects if there is a fire. It's going to cost a little bit more when we fireproof the floor. We're going to build a whole new facility inside the existing structure. We're going to rip all the drywall out and replace the roof," said Grimes.

"We're hoping to have at least 10, two bedroom units upstairs, we're still deciding on whether they'll be apartments or condos. A lot of it depends on the tax rates. We're going to cater more to seniors because we've got a lot of great feedback that they're looking for a place to live. They could use the underground parking we have and take the elevator upstairs. The guts for the elevator are already there, but it has to be completely redone and brought up to code," said Grimes  

"The main level is going to be commercial. It's either going to range from art buy and sell to possibly medical. We want to make sure our rents for the main level are extremely competitive and offer people the best price possible."

The two men have already discussed the possibility of Chatelaine moving back into the building once the renovations are complete, which could take up to a year. 

"Hopefully in the future, I do come back. I've been doing this for 24 years. Jesse mentioned once he gets this whole building fixed up and I'm not doing anything, if I want to come back into the building and open up again, I can rent some space. It's on the back burner if I don't find a job by then, because I'm going to be jobless once I'm done this, and so we'll go from there."

Grimes has lived in North Bay for about a year and a half and is happy to put down roots.

"I absolutely love it there." 

He and his wife are still working on a name for the building once it reopens.