The City of Port Alberni is going ahead with a request for proposals (RFP) for the old Tidebrook Motel property despite an already high rate of vacant commercial properties in the city.
The city purchased the former Tidebrook Motel property, located on the corner of Gertrude Street and Pemberton, from developer Jack Purdy for $195,000 as part of the Waterfront North Study.
A report on the current commercial market for Port Alberni was conducted at council’s request and city planner Scott Smith presented his findings to council on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
“There’s a very high vacancy rate of commercial property and commercial buildings in the City of Port Alberni,” said Smith.
“They’re fairly concentrated in the Uptown but there’s quite a large number of vacancies in other large areas in the city including some of our new mall space.”
Although the former Tidebrook lot is in a high profile location, Smith said that adding another commercial site is not going to improve the vacancy rate of existing commercial spaces in the city.
“From the planner’s perspective there’s not a need for that commercial space,” Smith said. “Council could certainly issue a call for proposals to see what the local interest is there.”
The lot offers about 1,500 square metres of potential space available for commercial development.
“It is likely that a call for proposal would have to involve a subdivision for this property,” Smith said.
“There’s other aspects that came into [planning] including council’s interest in keeping the large Redwood tree on [the property] and a potential pedestrian link from Roger Street Park to Victoria Quay.”
Coun. Jack McLeman said although he understands the hesitation of adding another commercial space to the city’s vacancy list, there’s no harm in “seeing what’s out there for interest.”
“If we did pass the motion to do the RFP for commercial…do we have to say just that 1,500 square metres, or would we say what’s your idea?” McLeman asked.
“A developer might have a different shape that could include the trails and the Redwood tree. Can we word the RFP in such a way that it’s flexible?”
Smith said the RFP would most likely need to be flexible.