New owners are hoping to “breathe some life” back into the North Island Mall.
Bruce and Carol Dirom, who own Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc., have just purchased the remainder of the mall, along with their son Dylan. “He is a part owner of the other half of the building,” said Carol. Putting together the financing for the purchase was challenging.
“It’s very difficult for the people that you’re dealing with to look past the empty storefronts on Market Street and the economic challenges” the community is facing.
“We had to sell Port Hardy,” she said. “Bruce and I, we believe in Port Hardy. We believe in the community,” she said, so they persevered navigating the difficult financial channels. “It took us about three months to put together the financing,” said Carol.
The Diroms took possession of the mall June 1 and so far have leased the restaurant to Seto’s Wok & Grill and donated space for the Port Hardy Rotary Club to use for its meetings.
Carol says North Island College will also be in the mall for at least another year. Now the trio is looking to fill the rest of it. “We’re open for business. We’re receptive to any ideas that potential tenants, or anyone looking to start a business, may have.”
Carol says most of the space available would be ideal for company offices. The mall, which initially had a huge Safeway and other chain retail outlets, is 46,000 square feet, of which 20,000 is currently vacant. There are eight acres of parking.
Hardy Buoys started as a tenant itself in 1999 and purchased half the building in 2008 and turned it into a fish processing plant, said Carol. “We purchased it because we needed more room. In 2008, we did a very big expansion. We went from 10,000 square feet to 27,000 square feet,” she said.
“We’ve always plugged along and when the opportunity was presented to purchase the other half in February, we jumped on it, because it just made sense,” said Carol. “We were really pretty excited at the opportunity.”