New neighbours at the port

Port of Syd­ney Development Corp., ACAP Cape Bre­ton to move into for­mer fed­eral fish­eries build­ing

Cape Breton Post - - BUSINESS - BY CHRIS SHAN­NON CAPE BRE­TON POST chris.shan­non@cb­post.com Twit­ter: @cb­post_chris

The for­mer Fish­eries and Oceans Canada build­ing that has sat va­cant on the Syd­ney water­front for the past few years will be get­ting two new ten­ants in the com­ing months.

ACAP Cape Bre­ton will take over 1,800 square feet of of­fice space on Canada Day, while start­ing on Aug. 1, the Port of Syd­ney Development Corp. has leased an­other 2,000 square feet.

Both will be lo­cated on the main floor of the brown brick build­ing over­look­ing the Joan Har­riss Cruise Pavil­ion.

Mar­lene Usher, CEO of the Port of Syd­ney Development Corp., said it was a mat­ter of con­ve­nience to be mov­ing back down to the Syd­ney Ma­rine Ter­mi­nal.

“We al­ways wanted to be close to the ter­mi­nal,” she said Wednesday. “Now that the cruise sea­son has started we re­ally see the in­con­ve­nience of not be­ing there — not only for the pub­lic and cruise ser­vices but just for us, too, be­cause we like to be at the site.”

Usher said it was a mat­ter of hav­ing to “crunch the num­bers” to de­ter­mine whether the port could af­ford the move.

The cor­po­ra­tion pre­vi­ously put in an $800,000 bid to buy the build­ing as out­lined in board min­utes from Novem­ber 2015, how­ever that of­fer was re­jected by the build­ing’s owner at the time, Ian and Jamie Mc­Don­ald of J.I.J. Hold­ings Ltd.

J.I.J. Hold­ings, which pur­chased the build­ing from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in 2001, sold it in De­cem­ber 2016 to real estate de­vel­oper Pa­trick Donovan for $1,185,324.

The prop­erty’s cur­rent as­sessed value is $577,900 and it’s 33,837 square feet in size.

The port’s gen­eral man­ager Paul Car­ri­gan said the board of di­rec­tors ap­proved a five-year lease agree­ment at its April meet­ing.

The small makeshift build­ing used by the port’s of­fice staff was torn down in De­cem­ber and they have made two moves since.

He said Donovan is cur­rently up­grad­ing the build­ing’s first floor to Class A of­fice space.

“He’s also go­ing to be do­ing (work on) the façade and such,” noted Car­ri­gan.

He said the lease agree­ment, in­clud­ing the cost of rent, won’t be re­leased to the pub­lic cit­ing the con­fi­den­tial nature of the in­for­ma­tion. How­ever, the cost of of­fice space will be in­cluded in the port’s year-end re­port.

Donovan could not be reached by the Post for com­ment on his long-term plans for the build­ing. Its last ten­ant was lab­o­ra­tory test­ing com­pany, Maxxam An­a­lyt­ics, which moved out in 2015.

Along with sev­eral dated apart­ment com­plexes lo­cated on Wind­sor Street and Spruce Haven Drive in Syd­ney, Donovan, through his num­bered com­pany, 3046975 Nova Sco­tia Ltd., also owns the va­cant and van­dal­ized for­mer Syd­ney train sta­tion on Dodd Street.

The for­mer train sta­tion is de­scribed as in the “pre-development stage” by Donovan’s other com­pany reg­is­tered un­der the name Fal­con Realty.

The res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties are also ad­ver­tised for lease on­line at fal­con-realty.ca even though Fal­con Realty had its reg­is­tra­tion re­voked in April for non-pay­ment by the prov­ince’s registry of joint stock com­pa­nies.

While at the cor­ner of Ge­orge and Townsend streets, ACAP Cape Bre­ton re­cently sold its build­ing to a yet-to-be dis­closed buyer.

It was most re­cently listed for sale in March 2017 at $250,000, down from the pre­vi­ous ask­ing price of $295,000. The prop­erty is cur­rently as­sessed at $116,300.

ACAP Cape Bre­ton ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Jodi McDavid said the de­ci­sion was made two years ago to sell its Ge­orge Street build­ing, which for­merly housed an RBC bank branch.

Over the past num­ber of years cuts in gov­ern­ment fund­ing has re­duced staff from a peak of ap­prox­i­mately 20 em­ploy­ees to its cur­rent level of four.

“We’re just down­siz­ing,” she said, in leav­ing the 2,500-square­foot space. “It’s not very en­ergy ef­fi­cient for us to be in a huge build­ing and be an en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

McDavid said the group isn’t con­cerned about los­ing its vis­i­bil­ity in a high traf­fic lo­ca­tion on Ge­orge Street, not­ing the amount of out­door re­search con­ducted on Syd­ney har­bour and Mug­gah Creek make the move to the ma­rine ter­mi­nal a log­i­cal choice.

“We do tours of na­tive plants and … we do talk to peo­ple about the legacy of the tar ponds so there’s an education as­pect to what we do here as well as the en­vi­ron­men­tal as­pect,” she said.

“The other thing is we of­ten are do­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tion down near the har­bour, talk­ing to peo­ple about dif­fer­ent things that are liv­ing there.”

As for pos­si­ble col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the port and ACAP, Usher said it’s too early to dis­cuss if or how the two or­ga­ni­za­tions could pro­mote each other’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Now that the cruise sea­son has started we re­ally see the in­con­ve­nience of not be­ing there – not only for the pub­lic and cruise ser­vices but just for us, too, be­cause we like to be at the site.”

Mar­lene Usher, CEO, Port of Syd­ney Development Corp.

CHRIS SHAN­NON/CAPE BRE­TON POST

A cou­ple of pas­sen­gers from the cruise ship Maas­dam walk by the for­mer Fish­eries and Oceans Canada build­ing at 90 Es­planade in down­town Syd­ney on Wednesday. The build­ing will have its first oc­cu­pants in some time when ACAP Cape Bre­ton and the Port of Syd­ney Development Corp. move into the first floor of the build­ing this sum­mer.

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