The Home Hardware building in Stratford has been vacant for about two years and a legal disagreement over a right of way between former owner Tim Banks and Home Hardware has slowed down the possibility of selling the building.

Residents say they miss the store, which was part of the community for more than a decade, and hope the vacant building sells soon. 

"We really miss it ... we used it all the time, all the time," said area resident Garth Jenkins. 

"It looks sort of sad, seeing this big empty building and nothing in it."

Almost sold

The building, which is currently listed at $3.4 million, was close to being sold last spring but the buyer was scared off by the legal dispute between Home Hardware and Banks.  

Farming business Vanco was close to buying it. 

Rit VanNieuwenhuyzen, who co-owns the company with his two brothers, said they had planned on purchasing the building last spring. 

He said he was motivated because he was bothered driving by the vacant building regularly.

Home Hardware Stratford

The former store is now listed at $3.4 million. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"We were interested in it, we were close to buying it," VanNieuwenhuyzen said. "We were pretty serious at the time." 

He said when they found out about the court case they decided to back away. 

"I don't think anyone wants to buy litigation," he said. 

Legal dispute over right of way

The Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island recently ruled in favour of a motion by Banks (also referred to in the document as Pan American Properties Inc., and Seawin Racing Inc.).

Banks still owns properties beside the building and was disputing the fact that Home Hardware changed the entrance way without consulting him. 

"We had certain rights within the existing property," Banks said. 

"They took over 42 spaces in the parking lot when they extinguished the right of way, it affected what we can do in our neighbouring properties."

entrance way

The current and former owners were involved in a court case regarding this entrance way. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Banks was awarded his costs relating to the motion, to be paid by Home Hardware. The exact amount has yet to be determined.

The legal dispute is ongoing.

'Prime real estate'

The Town of Stratford said it is ideal to see buildings being used rather than sitting vacant. 

Stratford Mayor David Dunphy said it's unfortunate a potential sale fell through. 

'It's a very unique building, it's a large building and so it's going to need a very unique purchaser for this market.' - Jessica Kuepfer

"It's a prime real estate location for retail and other businesses," Dunphy said.

"I just hope the building is utilized." 

Home Hardware says 'unique property'

Jessica Kuepfer, public relations manager for Home Hardware, wouldn't speak to the details of the court case but described the large commercial property as one of a kind.

"It's a very unique building, it's a large building and so it's going to need a very unique purchaser for this market," she said. 

Home Hardware building Stratford

The store garnered some interest on the market but the legal dispute scared the prospective buyers off. (Laura Meader/CBC)

A buyer would also not be allowed to run a Home Hardware or other building supplies store out of the location. 

"It is our priority to sell this — we are currently actively marketing the property, we have it listed for sale," said Kuepfer.

"We would welcome a buyer as soon as possible."