By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: March. 9, 2013
When he signed on to buy his Second Ave property few years ago, it felt like something good was happening.
Olympics were coming, and optimism, along with the scent of freshly-minted money, was in the air.
John (let’s call him John), unable to rent in downtown Squamish, decided to buy property on Second Ave. in downtown Squamish.
What, he thought to himself, could possibly go wrong?
“It seemed like the best deal at that time,” he said.
“Now,” he said shaking in his seat, as if electrified by anger.
“This wouldn’t even sell in a garage sale,” he said.
The property has been on sale for more than a year now, and there are hardly any buyers.
From glee to anger, it’s been a short journey for John.
The signs are there.
It’s hard not to walk ten steps on Second Ave without seeing them: For Lease and For Sale signs.
There are offers of free commercial rents.
Take a look at the data sheet for properties for lease or sale on CLSLink.ca, and two words stick out.
There are 15 properties available for lease on Second Ave, with the average rent of $11 per square foot.
The rent for Cleveland Ave is slightly high, but it’s in Garibaldi Mall that rents start to go up.
For instance, a second floor office above Booster juice and Westland Insurance is listed at $16 a square foot.
It’s about the same ($16) for a commercial rental on Tantalus Road.
Dr. Stein Hoff owns property on Second Ave., and he believes the decision to open highway for commercial development led to this situation on Second Ave.
“The district has been dreadful and the Olympics were just a farce,” Dr. Hoff said.
Dr. Hoff bought his two buildings in 1983, hoping to sell them for an easy retirement.
Now, those plans have gone awry.
His property had been on sale, on and off, for five years.
There have been some ‘stupid’ offers, but nothing has really materialized.
He hasn’t increased the rent on his building, knowing the tenants won’t be able to afford it.
If the property doesn’t sell as he had hoped, Dr. Hoff says he might not have enough to sustain his retirement.
“I will have to go back to work,” he said.
Commercial realtor John Jervis said rents are low and properties are vacant because ‘anchor’ businesses are moving or have already moved out of downtown.
“Tourists make one stop and that is on the highway now,” he said.
“Business downtown is far too seasonal, and Squamish people don’t go out for dinner much anymore from Valleycliffe or Highlands because it’s so hard to find a taxi.”
Brad Hodge, owner of Better Computing, has given a serious thought to moving from a home-based business to one with a store-front.
But he feels the rents are still too high.
“To pay $700-1300/month for a space in the 2nd Ave. dead zone is too much of a shock,” he said.