Commercial property last undeveloped lot in Nanaimo’s north end

NANAIMO – Colliers International lists 2.5 hectares of commercial land near Woodgrove Centre for $5.9 million.

What is being described as north Nanaimo’s last large piece of undeveloped commercial property is up for sale.

Colliers International listed the 2.5-hectare property last week. The property, shaped sort of like a stubby knife blade, is tucked in between the two main traffic arteries through Nanaimo, to the north of the Michaels arts and crafts store.

“It’s one of the last raw pieces of land,” said Bill Corsan, city manager of real estate.

By “raw,” Corson means the land has never had any prior development on it, but there have been past proposals.

“At one point it was going to be some large-format retail, at another point there was going to be a hotel there,” Corsan said. “So we’ll see what the next person wants to do. Maybe a combination of the two.”

Jason Winton, Colliers vice-president and managing broker for the mid-Island region, said the acreage, which is currently owned in a joint venture between investor groups in Nanaimo and the Lower Mainland and priced at $5.9 million, was listed nationally Tuesday and has already generated interest from potential buyers across Canada, but as of last week there had been no firm offers.

“I would say at this stage of the game it’s very early interest, but a site like that, situated on two major arterials – major highways – is going to get quite a bit of interest from commercial developers, especially on the Lower Mainland,” Winton said. “We’re in initial talks with a few of them right now, giving them more information that they’re requesting.”

Even if a developer purchased the property right away, it could take up to two years before construction might start.

Then again, with no other land parcels of that size already zoned and ready for commercial development, a corporate tenant might want to start building as soon as all city development requirements can be met.

“You just never know when a tenant’s going to show up,” Winton said. “We were surprised when Cabela’s came in … That was handled out of Vancouver and we were all sort of surprised by it.”

Winton and Corsan said they had not heard of any interest for alternative uses of the land, such as the creation of a park, but Corsan said that would be unlikely given its location and that there was already lots of parkland, such as May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park, nearby.