Something Fishy This Way Comes
Gord Fuller: January 6, 2013
This one has been really nagging at me since the story came out. First off we did not sell the property for $1.00 we are actually giving it, assessed value of $3,379,000.00, to the developer and will also pay them $39,999.00 if torn down or upgraded in two years. With knowledge of Tectonica’s plans a great deal for them.
This comment by Mayor Ruttan is simply ludicrous; “The sale of the old City Hall Annex to Tectonica for one dollar solves the challenge of disposing of a property for which there is no financial incentive for a buyer to develop.” The only reason to justify this comment is that when the City decided to build its new Annex, without out it going out to tender, it was partly justified with regards to the earthquake readiness of the old annex. Mayor & Council then, in their infinite wisdom, decided that as a condition of sale for the property of the old annex the building would have to be upgraded to today’s standards or be demolished.
These conditions of sale are the only thing that renders the property of little value. Unlike all other commercial properties that do not meet current earthquake standards, and this is many, said properties do not have these conditions. The condition they do have is that if there is a change of use of the building i.e. office use to condo then and only then they would have to earthquake upgrade. Commercial properties are sold all the time; buildings either demolished and then rebuilt to current standard or they are renovated and not earthquake upgraded.
This story in the Daily News shows quite clearly the value of commercial properties; http://www2.canada.com/nanaimodailynews/news/story.html?id=d2831d0a-d5ea-44b9-92a9-33449d3837bb and also that sales of such have been booming.
Why then did our Mayor & Council approve giving away the property at 238 Franklyn St? There is something fishy, literally stinks, here and not just in this decision but others the city has made as well.
Council sells city hall annex for $1
Approval given to sell old city annex for $1
Bob and Darren Moss. Old Boys Club with a new name! How interesting!
I thought there was a link between Tectonica and DTZ.
Tectonica seem rather small potatoes for this project , it would seem out of their league.
The City Hall bureaucrats wanted a shiny new building so they resorted to the earthquake gambit. It was fairly certain that an engineering firm would find earthquake vulnerabilities in the structure – very few multi-storey buildings In Nanaimo over forty years of age would get a passing grade from an engineering study. Two-thirds of the buildings in the downtown area could sustain significant damage in the event of a major earthquake centred nearby.
Once having succeeded in getting their new building City Managers found themselves painted into a corner. They could hardly flip a building which they had labelled an earthquake trap. So sell it for $1.00 and add another couple million dollars to the real cost of the eponymously named “Services and Resources” Building.
You can be sure that Tectonica do not plan to spend seven million on structural upgrades. One of the key terms of agreement is that the upgrades only need to be 60% earthquake construction standards compliant. It may be very difficult – some would say completely subjective – to determine whether the resultant upgrades are 60 per cent compliant as opposed to say 55% or 65% compliant.
Just an over confident, complacent, management and staff that have had their way, calling the shots, for far too long.
My fist dealing with Nanaimo city building dept. was 1959: things have gone a long way down since . . .
Solution? I dunno, Gord fish in another gene pool I guess.
Thanx David my sentiments exactly. The question is who put the idea for conditions on sale into the head of City Staff and who on City Staff authorized the conditions on sale? We may, sadly, not have had enough on council agree to a Core Review but wonder if there is any interest in a Management Audit per-se?
Whose idea was it to purchase the old annex apparently without checking on the stability of the structure in the first place and how much did we pay for it? How much did we spend over the years in renovating it? If I recall correctly we spent millions, much of it for a special office for our City Manager, Gerry Berry at that time. What was out total investment in this property?
And why, as Gordon and others have stated, did we take the free market out of the sale? Are our developers so stupid that they must be protected from themselves, and if so, what about the rest of us. Will those who made this decision and have property in Nanaimo undertake to do an earthquake audit on their structures and, finding deficiencies will they stop its use and, if they want to sell the property, place similar terms on any sale? If not, why not?
Click to access DPRC.pdf
There is something inherently wrong with a Development Review Committee whose members, except for some council and staff, is entirely composed of those from the Development Community.. How much pull/influence do they have with decisions being made by council? There have been some pretty crappy decisions of late, not least of all the Annex Sale and Colliery Dam issue, that do not make much sense.
The contradiction for Council is that they have never passed a Hazardous Buildings (Earthquakes) Bylaw. If they passed a by-law which required all commercial, institutional and high-rise residential buildings to be upgraded to current earthquake proofing standards (or to be torn down) there would be a lot of unhappy people in town – churchgoers losing their places of worship, VIHA closing a chunk of their facilities, stores emptying out along Commercial Street, Courthouse shut down … Nanaimo would soon look like it really had been devastated by an earthquake. So, of course, it will never happen. It makes the whole Annex Affair look even worse as an egregious contrivance.
P.S. As far as I can determine not a single person since Confederation has died in Canada from a building collapse caused by an earthquake. There were two deaths attributed to the 1946 Courtenay Quake – one a drowning and the other a heart attack. The worst earthquake related incident in what is now Canada was 28 fatalities from a 1929 tsunamai that struck the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland. There have been a number of fatalities from slides but they have usually been caused by too much rain or snow. That doesn’t mean that a large earthquake will never hit Nanaimo – but there are probably other things that are more worrisome as potential causes of large scale illness, injury and death.
The quake in Haida Qwaii was 7.7 and was 80km from a community. Not one building suffered, nor was anyone injured. There is a whole lot of smoke and mirrors and supposition behind the ‘science’ of what will happen IF a quake hits.
The engineers report that condemned the old annex said in a seismic event (not specified) the building could be damaged. Really??? Could they have been any more vague with their findings?
If you hire an engineer to determine if a building might be damaged in a seismic event, do you really think they will say no??
Perhaps they had to give away the old annex, for fear someone else might come along and disprove their findings???
It really is too bad that only a handful of letter writers and bloggers seem to give a crap what goes on at city hall.
I can;t remember where ( i will check it out) on the WWW there is a site where one can set up a petition.
Would this be of any use to pursue and to ask the Auditor of Municipalities to take Nanaimo Council to task?
Would this help?
Today as found on the City Website:
“As part of the forthcoming renovations to the old City Hall Building, both the Mayor’s Office and staff belonging to the Legislative Services Department will be temporarily relocated to the City’s old Annex building at 238 Franklyn St.”
Earthquake predictions anyone?
Now that is Amusing:)
Oh dear! Can we say 7.7. Where is risk management? Lol!
I am curious whether there has ever been an engineering assessment of the earthquake vulnerability of the City Hall building????
One of the real questions around the whole thing is why were so many of the decisions made around the Annex done in Camera?
Also check out the chronology on page 29;
“In Camera” Committee of the Whole Meeting 2012-AUG-27
It was moved and seconded that Council direct Staff to transfer the land and building at
238 Franklyn Street to Tectonica Management Inc. The motion carried unanimously.
Does this mean that we will have to pay rent to Tectonica while City Hall is refurbished?
I have a “friend” who bought a million dollar building on Commercial Street.When we chatted about the Annex this weekend,he was surprised, and outraged at this sale to Tectonica.My friend is upgrading his building, and knew nothing about this deal. Curiously, the building he bought just over a year ago was for sale by DTZ Barnicke, another side of Tectonica.
My friend had no idea that the Annex was for sale,or “in his words” he would have bought it,especially with the conditions that we now know about.
I will talking with him today to clarify another aspect of his purchase, as I want to make sure I heard him properly. Just recently my friend had to shell out big big bucks to upgrade his building to earthquake standards, in order to finish his project. I will post later when I find out just what he had to do and how much.
The time when a seismic upgrade is required, is when there is a change in use of the building. Logically a warehouse with limited occupancy could have a lower standard than a nightclub and so on. If you friends building was changing the use, the seismic upgrades just come with it as to improved fire sprinklers etc.
As for not knowing the building was for sale, it technically never was, it was posted since last April on the city website with as an RFP.
Thanks Jim. My friend is saying that he has to upgrade to 100% seismic standard. I may have misread the data on the Annex, but I thought they were only required to update up to 60%. I also understood that there is no “bylaw ” regarding this. Your expertise would be most welcome,as I am feeling somewhat confused.
My understanding is a seismic review is required when the use of a building changes to a more intensive use (such as a higher occupancy load). I don’t believe this is governed by a city bylaw, but rather the Canadian Building Code.
Technically, if someone had wanted to buy the old annex and not change to a more intensive use, there would have been no requirement to address seismic standards. The decision to upgrade to 60% of current code, was strictly an arbitrary decision made by staff.