RIP Putt Above


I gave these enthusiastic passengers a ride from the Franco-Ouest area to Bells Corners’ worst pathway. Jay, one of the councillor’s many employees, recently provided an update on “progress” on transforming this dangerous yet vital Westcliffe community link: “Progress is being made, but we have yet to hear back from Hydro. Costs need to be found for the property for budgeting.” Alex Lewis says that the Hydro area is leased to the mall and that there “might be two parts to the property.”

Yet another Bells Corners business has packed up and left. A Putt Above made a valiant effort of it, but in the end the “market” made its decision and the investors pulled the plug. Too bad – you can see at the end of this video what an asset it was to Bells Corners. Hope the other location on Hunt Club & Merivale is still alive. (sorry, the two are completely separate businesses)

After recently losing the Pizza Hut, Jadan’s and KidKaf, this is yet another blow to the numbered company that owns this sad yet strategically-located strip mall.

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18 Responses to RIP Putt Above

  1. That is really unfortunate but not at all unexpected. That strip mall is going to have a hard time getting two spaces that large leased.

    Re: Rick’s many employees — does he really have any employees except Jay? Most of Rick’s staff jump ship because they can’t stand working with Jay. I’m sure that is fine with Jay because it makes him that much more valuable to Rick. I of course greatly support that. Not that Rick has any chance of re-election but it never hurts to have someone as incompetent as Jay around to ensure that Rick shoots himself in the foot even more.

    – We know that Rick spent $159,593 in tax dollars on his staff in 2011. But Jay didn’t get all of it – Rick likes to hire “freelancers”/aspiring mini-Ricks (and maybe family members too?) for special events and assignments (like infiltrating community associations).

    Another clue is the LONG list of people Rick bought lunch for; here’s just one example:

  2. Anonymous says:

    What stores and how many have left Bell’s Corners?

    – What time period do you have in mind? Since the last election? The past two elections? This month?

  3. TonyL1 says:

    Some recent casualties include: Anwars Kitchen, Jadan’s Orthopedic Shoes, Magic Cuts in Zellers, Steamed Rice Express, Goodwill, Pizza Hut, Shell Gas Station, KidKaf, PC Cyber, Gow’s Restaurant, Turpin Suzuki, and now a Putt Above – these have all closed since the road name change fiasco.

    There are approximately 30+ boarded-up businesses in Bells Corners!

    • margaret says:

      don’t think we can blame all this on the road name …though fiasco I can agree with …

      looks like turpin is moving back in or someone is …

    • reidjr says:

      Some of that you can blame on the road change, but some you can’t.

      As for boarded-up businesses, look at Lapointe’s Westcliffe mall – there are about two and at FreshCo plaza there are about 5. The Bell Mews has around 4 and at the former Pizza Hut mall there are around 7, plus you have Hooters/Gows so, while there is a large number, I don’t think it’s 30 plus.

    • Terry J says:

      Some of these are not Bell Corners problems – PC Cyber closed down all locations in Ottawa. Yum Brands, owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell, filed for bankruptcy and are closing locations all over the place. These two in particular have NOTHING to do with the name change.

      – Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell bankrupt? Good riddance to bad rubbish. If Bells Corners consumers insist on eating unhealthy sugar-and-fat-laced junk food, does it have to be AMERICAN junk food? We’re not as obese as the Yanks or the Brits, but we’re not far behind.

      Do yourself a favour and consider one of the local Bells Corners restaurants (NOT a chain) for your chow-down needs – the food is healthier and cheaper.

      • YUM Brands did not file for bankruptcy — Priszm Income Fund filed for bankruptcy. Priszm is a large– possibility largest– operator of fast-food franchises in Canada and, while they do own some Pizza Huts, the vast majority of their holdings are KFC outlets. They did not own the Pizza Hut franchise in Bells Corners so their financial issues have nothing to do with the closing of this particular Pizza Hut.

        The Bells Corners Pizza Hut was a planned closure. They started pulling the equipment used to make their wings almost a year before they closed. I do agree that the road name issue was not a factor. Given what it costs to operate a restaurant of that size a few thousand dollars for the name change is insignificant. The most likely reason for the closure was that having another Pizza Hut just down the street made this Pizza Hut unviable given the high rent and less than ideal location.

  4. TonyL1 says:

    In no way am I suggesting that the road name change is the only reason for any of them closing.

    I was using the name change fiasco as a floating point in time for the businesses I listed.

    I’m just back from a long bike ride for a recount of the empties.

    My count is 29 retail, not including RIM or Magic Cuts in Zellers.

    Westcliffe mall has 5, Robertson mall has 7, Pizza Hut mall has 6 – that’s 18 right there, and the rest are scattered.

    I’m glad to see Turpin back, and the two new stores in the Lifesource mall – hopefully more will be rented in the future!

    • Something moved into Turpin?

      The street re-naming is bad in the sense that every business is out $1500+ and some are out $50,000+ for absolutely no benefit, but it isn’t going kill anyone that wasn’t failing already.

      It just sucks because small business owners just don’t make that much, and $1500 is a meaningful amount to them. It is also disappointing because if businesses were going to be out over a million and a half they could have actually done something with that money rather than waste it to keep Rick Chiarelli’s ego intact.

      The problems with Bells Corners are pretty deep and the more I have thought about it the more I realize it can’t actually be fixed. There are three big problems.

      1) Demographics — Bells Corners needs more people. Talk of fictional condos was just that and, while it would be nice to have more people, I find it very unlikely that we will get them. Bells Corners needs more people since it has nothing to attract people to come here.

      2) Rent — The rents in Bells Corners are just too expensive.

      3) The structure of the buildings — These L-shaped strip malls that were so popular in the 60s-70s are horrible.

      The only one that anything can be done about is #2, but landlords seem oblivious to the fact that half their space is empty. I think many of them have been misled by Rick’s claims that DND is going to fix everything — it won’t. Things are actually going to get a lot worse once aTarget opens up at each end of the strip in neighbouring communities.

      – My only quibble with this spot-on analysis is the idea that Bells Corners “has nothing to attract people to come here” – it’s a great place to live (location, location, location) with fabulous access to the Greenbelt and many other delights without being too far from downtown.

      There’s no more vacant uncontaminated land here (unless Rick succeeds in getting the trailer park residents evicted or the NCC gives up parts of the Greenbelt) but there are TONS of places to densify and build profitable yet affordable mixed-housing communities in place of derelict strip malls. Bells Corners has many other strengths (for example, we’re a self-sustaining community in that number of jobs = number of residents).

      Too bad we’re wasting so much money and energy on Rick’s snake oil, but it’s not too late for Bells Corners to recover from the damage our ethically-challenged politician has wrought if people smarten up and give the “free lunch councillor” the boot in the 2014 election (assuming that he doesn’t resign in shame before then). If Bells Corners businesses regain control of “their” BIA then the rejuvenation will happen that much more quickly.

      • someone says:

        As the main owner of A Putt Above I can tell you why we closed – rent and heat/hydro. We tried for over two years to get the landlord to reduce the rent to something that allowed us to pay staff and bills and never once took a salary.

        All the other businesses tried to re-negotiate rents and per square footage costs of $11/sq ft. At over $25 sq/ft (in total) for 9300 sq ft that’s a lot of $ per month to shell out.

        At under $30K a month in revenue, trying to drive traffic to BC from Vanier, Orleans, Stittsville, Arnprior, and the likes through both online media and TV/Radio Ads – it was just too much.

        The landlord “Asif” and his uncle just are not appreciative of the small business person. It’s that simple. That mall will have empty spaces for a long time until they both wake up and smell the coffee.

        – I always feel bad when a small business in Bells Corners closes, because it usually means that someone’s dreams have been smashed. Seeing somebody with an original idea and a socially useful service (KidKaf, Putt Above, etc.) close up shop is even more painful.

        I share your frustration – many community residents can’t see that having numerous boarded-up businesses in Bells Corners is a better option than seeing the landlords make an effort to work with the tenants.

        Your figure of $25 sq/ft all-in (rent, a slew of taxes, utilities, BIA levy, etc.) sounds about right to me – when I went around inquiring about space for Recyclore that seems to be the “fixed price” set by the cartel. You’d sure have to suck a LOT of profit out of your customers to carry such a huge burden.

        Maybe they’ve calculated that a little short-term pain (empty businesses with no rent coming in) is worth the long-term gain (overall bottom line is maximized). I’m not sure of that – I have the feeling that these people have so much money already that they just can’t be bothered with the hassle of accommodating a tenant. They also might be worried that by “tampering” with the sanctity of a signed lease (by renegotiating) they’d be setting a bad example, and other tenants or other Bells Corners landlords would start crabbing.

        It’d be nice if a Big Landlord or an apologist for them (Rick or Alex, for example) would comment here and give their side of the story (but obviously that’s not going to happen).

        Bottom line is that you can’t blame a businessperson for considering self-interest and profit above all else – those are the rules of the game in our society. Politicians like Rick, Jim, and Mark Taylor are financed by the big money boys, so we can’t appeal to them for help.

        • Someone,

          Sorry about your business. My GF also has a business in Bells Corners and she is considering relocating because of the cost of rent. She would love to stay in Bells Corners as her family has operated business in the area for over twenty years but if you can save 30-40% on rent by relocating and your business is not location dependent then it is hard to stay.

          I understand why building owners are determined to keep rent high — the value of commercial real estate is directly related to the amount of rent it generates. Lowering rent not only decreases revenues but also decreases the value of the asset. Normally the correct play is not to lower rent if you can keep occupancy high enough to still be cash flow positive. That is not going to be possible when better locations are charging similar or lower rates. By the time you get to a situation like Bells Corners lowering rent is the only option but people are often very irrational when it comes to real estate. I’m curious how heavily leveraged some of these malls are. One of the ways Bells Corners might actually improve is if the banks end up with some of the properties.

  5. TonyL1 says:

    looking at a AD on Kijiji about this mall, it’s true, it’s dying… that’s a lot of empty units
    Unit 101-102 – 9,322sf
    Unit 103 – 2,500sf
    Unit 104 – 894sf
    Unit 106A – 650sf
    Unit 107 – 1,350sf
    Unit 108 – 1,947sf
    Unit 111 – 937sf
    Unit 113 – 2,016sf
    Unit 115 – 4,000sf
    Price: $15-18/sf (Unit 108)
    Price: $20-25/sf (Unit 115)
    Op. Costs: $10.56/sf

    • someone says:

      The owners of the mall couldn’t even justify the operating costs.

      When asked (as part of the lease agreement) for the accounting documents they provided a 7-item list in “windows notepad”.

      They first tried to give this to KidKaf as valid proof of operating costs. I said tell them to buzz off and don’t pay until it’s provided in the proper format.

      She held off for quite some time without ever getting proper proof. We too at A Putt Above never received proper proof of costs.

      No fixing of the landscape, building, columns, signs, etc. – for $11 sq/ft it’s not acceptable.

      Yes, the old “L” format of malls is dead and this mall too will eventually sit completely empty with boards on the windows (like Hooters). Until Rick and crew get more people living in BC rather than “passing through” businesses will leave and find more worthy locations.

      • margaret says:

        sad to see businesses leave
        you’ve been suggesting a simple solution yet the landowners just don’t see it
        and meanwhile the city keeps suggesting more ‘business/commercial’ sites everywhere
        as you said – the community needs more people to keep this business area going
        but …. the only suggestions so far have been hotels … more transients

        Bells Corners needs more people LIVING here but not in infills – there are a few housing lots available for this, but the local residents will have issues about that … NIMBY

        the city needs to look at the main strip for residential infill but landowners have to apply for rezoning and there’s not much there anyway
        from what I’ve heard the city will NOT be looking at BC as a whole for a long time … we are not that important in the big scheme of thigs …
        no secondary plans and visions etc …
        so it will all be bits and pieces and no clear idea and BC will become an even bigger quilt than it already is

        pity the Holiday Inn went in there – would’ve been very convenient to build apartments in that area and it could’ve started a chain of residential on that side of the strip

  6. Wookie says:

    Sounds to me like Ricky (whoever he is) is just plain greedy. Who cares about employees or providing a good source of recreation cheap? Follow the MONEY!

    • You can’t fault someone for trying to make money. The problem is that they are behaving in a way that isn’t making them money. If I could get $2000 a square foot I would, but I know I can’t. I fully support charging as much rent as the market will pay, but when half the strip is empty it is time to realize that the market isn’t willing to pay.

      To be fair you can’t put all the fault on the landlords — Rick likes to shoot his mouth off about topics he has no understanding of. This clown of a councillor keeps announcing fictional improvements to the area so the landlords correctly feel that a wait and see approach is the correct choice. Commercial leases tend to be long– 5 years is common– so why lower the rent if you have Chiarelli promising you fictional condos? The most important requirement for a successful business is accurate information to make decisions with. Bells Corners has a city councillor who announces project after project that never materialize which leads business owners– in this case landlords– to make bad decisions. Now the community is screwed and there is no way to fix it fast.

  7. Shirley says:

    re: a putt above… you mention that you “Hope the other location on Hunt Club & Merivale is still alive.” This implies that the closed location in Bells’ Corners is affiliated with Putting Edge on Merivale. Is this truly the case?

  8. someone says:

    A Putt Above was in no way affiliated with Putting Edge. Completely different companies.

    – My apologies for the dumb mistake.

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