Starbucks shows whole latte interest in Strathroy

You know your community is growing when it finally lands a Starbucks — and that’s now the case for Strathroy-Caradoc.

Forget about the numbers of housing starts or building permits.

You know your community is growing when it finally lands a Starbucks — and that’s now the case for Strathroy-Caradoc.

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On Monday, politicians here will debate whether to give the green light to a project to build what would become the municipality’s first location of the popular coffee shop chain on a piece of land just south of the town’s downtown.

“I am excited to see the arrival of a Starbucks in Strathroy, largely because I see it as an indicator that our local economy has cleared some sort of economic hurdle,” said Coun. John Brennan.

“Franchises such as Starbucks tend not to locate in a town unless it has met some marketplace metric which indicates their investment will be profitable . . . (and) clearly that has happened in Strathroy-Caradoc.”

Strathroy-Caradoc is one of the fastest growing communities in the region.

According to projections made by Middlesex County, the number of households in the municipality could grow to as many as 12,000 in less than 20 years, 3,500 more than in 2016.That would make the municipality the second fastest growing community in the county, only behind Middlesex Centre. The population of Strathroy-Caradoc is 22,000.

This growth has been bolstered in part by rising home prices and the lack of available residential land in London, which, along with lower land prices, have made Strathroy-Caradoc an attractive place for developers.

The construction boom has been such in the last few years that the municipality recently created the position of manager of building and planning to ensure it can keep up with its growth. The town is also working on a secondary plan for an 80-hectare piece of land that could accommodate as many as 900 new homes.

And it is precisely all of that potential for growth that makes this project viable and is making Strathroy-Caradoc an attractive location for new businesses, said Lee Greenwood, a partner at London-based Canadian Commercial Development. His company is developing the site, which will also include a KFC.

Strathroy has “now hit that threshold in population that a lot more retailers are interested in the community,” he said. “A lot of retailers see it as a bedroom community to London and a viable alternative, and people are seeing it as a place to live, in a good region and that attracts new tenants.”

Though getting interest from a chain like Starbucks is certainly a sign of the renewed potential of the municipality, Greenwood said not all types of businesses would be looking at setting shop in the municipality.

He said the types of businesses most likely to make the decision of expanding to a rural community like Strathroy are those in the food or personal service sector, which he called “Amazon-proof” businesses, meaning they won’t be overtaken by online shopping.

“It’s not the old-school, 20 years ago hard retailing, but it’s more the services and amenities the community will need as it grows,” Greenwood said.

If approved by council, the new store could be open by the fall or early winter.

Jonathan Juha
Publishing date: May 31, 2019
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