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New life for former Sears building with $4M P.E.I. government development loan

Monday was the last day for merchandise sales at the Sears store in Charlottetown.
The former Sears store in Charlottetown will be redeveloped into a shopping retail centre, with six to eight potential tenants. -File

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The province has approved a $4 million loan for the redevelopment of the shuttered Sears property on Malpeque Road in Charlottetown.

The loan, provided by the Island Investment Development Inc., will be issued to 102253 P.E.I. Inc., whose two directors are developers Tim Banks and entrepreneur Jamie Hill.

IIDI CEO Jamie Aiken confirmed to The Guardian that the Sears building will be redeveloped into a shopping retail centre, with six to eight potential tenants.

Tim Banks
Tim Banks

Developer Tim Banks has referred to the new development as a “Royalty Power Mall.” The retail tenants have not yet been revealed.

Related: Despite Sears closure, Charlottetown ‘still great place for business to operate,’ says mayor

According to Aiken, the board of IIDI, the treasury board and the province’s executive council all approved the loan. The loan will have a five-year term and will have an interest rate of four per cent.

"We were approached to seek financing on this redevelopment to bring this asset back into utilization. It's been idle for a period of time,” Aiken said.

“It made financial sense for us to be financing it. It repays itself and the security is quite good on it."

Banks has been a prominent business figure in P.E.I. for many years. At times, he has been politically involved and briefly served as president of the P.E.I. Liberal in 2002. He was voted out as president in April of that year and resigned from the party’s executive in 2003.

Tim Banks is listed as the director and/or president of several companies bearing the name APM. While not a top donor, APM Construction Services has donated over $10,000 to the P.E.I. Liberal Party since 2011.

Aiken said Banks’ past political activities bore no relation to the decision of the IIDI board to approve the loan.

The board of IIDI is composed of four individuals, who were appointed in August after an application process involving Engage P.E.I., and three government employees, including Aiken.

“I don't look at political affiliations, I have no political affiliations. When we review the file, we look at it from its financial capabilities," Aiken said.

The IIDI does not provide public access to the exact text of the terms of the loan. Aiken said doing so could give up private information to company competitors.

In January, the IIDI approved another $2.1 million loan to Pan-American Properties Inc. Banks is listed as the president of this company.

Stores for the new development could start opening in the property as early as the spring.

Banks was contacted about the development. He refused to comment.

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