Commercial buildings such as the lower Centre Square Mall, the Gold Range Hotel and the A&W franchise have gone up for sale last month. What is the reason for the influx of commercial buildings going up for sale? Is it a sign of something to come? Yellowknifer asks these questions to owner and broker of Century 21: Prospect Realty, Adrian Bell. He did not seem concerned.
“It’s not a sign of much of anything,” he said. “Normally, a lot of these things change hands without the public ever knowing about it.”
He gave the Nova Plaza as an example, which he said he was apparently involved in selling last year. He also said he was involved in selling Yellowknife Dairies recently, which was also not made public. He said the reason for some commercial buildings not being listed online is because the average purchaser wouldn’t be interested. He attributed the cause of the increase of online listings to his own hands.
“I think there has been a bit more of an uptick in commercial listings being online, partly because I’m involved now and there’s more of this stuff going through real estate brokerages than before,” he said.
He said that most owners want to pay down their loans, turn a profit, and move on.
“That’s that’s the nature of commercial real estate,” he said.
He also said that in some cases, the company that owns the commercial real estate will just move their assets around to another legal entity.
“Now and then the REITs (real estate investment trusts) just move their assets and then it’ll be a new RIET and you don’t even really hear about it but they change hands.”
Some years are busier than others for commercial listings, he said.
What are local business owners saying?
Bell said that as a business owner himself and the president of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce (YK Chamber), he does hear what they are saying every now and again.
One of the concerns that Bell said is on the minds of business owners is the impact the closure of the Diavik Diamond Mine will have on the local economy, though the situation is not completely bleak.
“Although we have the diamond mine closure on the horizon, we’ve also got the remediation stuff that seems to get bigger and bigger,” he said. “Maybe we’ll weather that change in our economy a little better than we thought we would.”
He was getting mixed messages from businesses about the impact of the pandemic. He said that some of them, particularly ones that rely on tourism, did take a hit during the pandemic but were able to survive because of government subsidies. He said that other businesses thrived through the pandemic.
He said that a struggle that is shared by many business owners are staff shortages, and that the YK Chamber is lobbying for streamlining the processes involved in hiring and to help their members to understand existing processes more.