The City of Vancouver will be selling one of its buildings, the prominent Esther Short Building, as it plans to move much of its staff into the former Columbian Building nearby.
Andrea Damewood of The Columbian reports today:
The Esther Short Building — built in 1971, with the second floor added in 1991 — is the only one of five buildings occupied by city workers that will be sold, Haldeman said. Three additional locations are leased. …”
The plan for all of the leased office space and real estate remains unclear, though, as so far articulated by the city. It appears that some of the existing tenants will remain in The Columbian Building (the six-story building overlooking the park). That would appear to be a good business decision as a landlord, but is it the consolidation of space promised by the city?
The series of transactions related to the move of city offices has been criticized by a vocal group of citizens, many of whom saw the sale as concerted plan between the city and the former owners of the Columbian Building as a public bail-out. The building was eventually sold by Bank of America after it was signed over by a family trust which built the building.
That transaction was formally approved by the city in June of 2010 and the city has been spending time and money readying the facility for occupancy as a public space. The location will apparently house a “one-stop permit center” and a new council chambers.
However, much remains unclear about the city’s long-term real estate plans and it will likely lose money on the current sale of the Esther Short Building. In a bad market, especially in downtown Vancouver, no sale is guaranteed to happen. That could only raise more concerns to those who are closely watching the city’s strained budget.