Sunday, January 04, 2015

South Downtown (Wellcox) Property Deal

The South Downtown Waterfront Committee finished it's work last year exploring possible uses of the waterfront property the city of Nanaimo purchased last year commonly known as the Wellcox rail yard. No doubt sometime in a time far, far, far away this property could be a waterfront jewel to be cherished for generations to come.

In the current state, what the taxpayers of Nanaimo have purchased is some 27 acres of prime downtown waterfront property of which we control about 20 - 25%. The balance of the property is encumbered with leases to the Island Corridor Foundation and Seaspan, both of which have perpetual rights of use to the land they now occupy for which they pay no rent to their new landlord, which of course are the taxpayers of Nanaimo.

The entire parcel is outlined in the heavy black line, and includes the two strips highlighted in red. The red shows the trestle and roadway we assumed liability for in the purchase, even though neither are needed to access the 27 acres we did buy. You can ask your last city council about the logic behind that as the rationale seems a little vague. The trestle and that piece of roadway are critical to the Nanaimo Port Authority who should be invited to take on the liability they present Nanaimo taxpayers.

Whether the Nanaimo taxpayer had to take control of this parcel in order for it to see it's fullest potential is a topic of discussion. Those who think the city really should stay out of the property development business could make a sound argument for the wisdom of this purchase and the liability the taxpayers have now assumed with the repairs needed for the wooden trestle, whatever costs will be needed for site remediation, the total cost to 'buy out' Seaspan and ICF's interest in the property. As long as Seaspan and ICF occupy their present footprint, there is really very little land that will accrue much value to the Nanaimo taxpayer. Why either Seaspan or ICF would have any real interest in surrendering their perpetual rights of use to such a valuable piece of land is a bit of a mystery at this point, but you can bet that will add considerably to the cost the Nanaimo taxpayer will have paid when this deal is final.

The area on the graphic above identifying the Island Pallets space is the area currently in the final stages of reclaiming, which involved the demolition and removal of the old warehouse building and the removal and replacement of contaminated soil. This project was originally budgeted to cost $400,000 but will cost about $550,000 if it is now completed at the tendered price.


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