Commercial Development in Nanaimo

I found the following article in the Nanaimo Daily News a few days back. I thought it covered some key points regarding commercial real estate that I have noticed over the past year. Worth the read if you are the sort of person who is interested in keeping up with what the market is doing.

However, most people who visit this blog are here because they want info on buying or selling their home. If that’s you, there’s lots more on this blog but the best way to start is by joining the mailing list by entering your email address in the box on the right.  You’ll get a seven part series of articles sent your way that will give you all the info you need minus what is specific to your own situation. That’s where I come in.

Ryan Coffey

Commercial developers take advantage of market

Owners of Port Place Shopping Centre have nearly completed the first phase of a massive redevelopment, which could take at least 10 years to fully complete. The project remains the largest development in Nanaimo currently under construction and will go a long way in the ongoing revitalization of the downtown. It is one of many mixed-use developments in the city.

Most of the larger developments are commercial or a mix of commercial and residential, but despite this busy time for such property developers, there is an overall decrease in the number of building permits compared to this time last year, according to city staff, who expected to see a rise in applications this year. Construction cost totals exceeded 2010 figures, reaching $32 million as of the end of July, up from $24 million last year. First Capital Realty hopes to complete the initial phase of its Port Place overhaul in the next few months “It’s a bit of an act of faith on our part. All we did was buy a shopping centre that was functionally impaired and we’re investing money on the basis that Nanaimo will have growth in the coming years,” said Ralph Huizinga, the company’s vicepresident of acquisitions and development. “You have to believe in the future of Nanaimo to do this sort of thing.”

A large portion redevelopment has already been completed. When finished the estimated $20-million project will create a pedestrian-friendly building with widened sidewalks, exterior and interior shopping, public open spaces and a bike path around the entire property.

Overall plans include constructing a new street through the property connecting both Terminal Avenue and Front Street. The north portion of the mall will be turned inside out with small boutique shops lining the sidewalk. Across what has so far been dubbed High Street will be at least two floors of office space with plans to build two or three levels of residential units on top.

More residential units are planned in a couple other phases. Within five years, owners First Capital want to have mid-rise units on the north side of High Street, closer to Cameron Island.

Within 10 years, a 26-storey condo tower could be taking shape at the south-east corner of the property.

Workers have already completed most of the work for the portion of the mall that will remain indoors, including work done to the exterior.

Also, The TD Bank building at the corner of Nicol and Esplanade streets will be finished soon, giving an updated look to this aging and busy intersection.

Demolition of the north portion of the mall is nearly done as well and the company expects to complete High Street in two months.

Commercial developer RW Bob Wall has been busy during the recent residential construction slow down.

Bob Wall’s company has two significant projects in the construction phase.

One development at 1250 Stewart Ave. will have 21 condo units and will provide several amenities.

The resort-style building could be selling by March if targets are met, Wall explained.

He also has a mixed-use residential and commercial space being built on Metral Drive. The offices will be geared toward medical professionals, including physiotherapy and dentistry. Condo units will be constructed above.

The market is “solid” for commercial work, according to Wall. Developers want to take advantage of available labour and low interest rates.

“Businessmen use a different criteria (than homeowners),” he said. “They buy when interest rates are down, labour is available and material costs are reasonable. The housing market is such a big part of the construction industry, they drive the cost and availability.”

The largest residential development under construction is the 121-unit apartment building on Terminal Avenue.

This project will give a muchneeded boost to Nanaimo’s stagnant rental stock.

The five-storey development stretches one hectare, over three separate properties, at the corner of Cypress Street and Terminal and could be built within the next year. Converting the empty lots will increase density in the area that provides quick access to city transit, as well as the E&N trail. A new pedestrian crossing at the Cypress and Terminal intersection will also provide easy connection between the two neighbourhoods that flank terminal, while slowing traffic on the main thoroughfare.

The majority of the suites (54) will be one-bedroom units, but the building will also include 43 one-bedroom-and-den units, 13 two-bedroom units and eight bachelor units.

Like many of the commercial developments in the city, the owner of Terminal Heights Apartments Ltd. wanted to take advantage of available construction contractors and low interest rates.

More rental stock is on the way. One project is designed specifically for university students.

Vancouver developer Great West Developments began preliminary work on a new off-campus affordable, student housing project on Wakesiah Avenue. The 37unit development promises quality housing at affordable rates.

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