Abbotsford council has approved a contract for a real estate advisory and brokerage company to help the city explore what businesses might be interested in managing Tradex.
Council voted on Monday (May 31) to award Devencore Company Ltd. the contract for brokerage services. City staff said the company has experience with numerous similar projects, including recent work with University of the Fraser Valley and the Royal BC Museum.
Mayor Henry Braun explained that Devencore will receive proposals from proponents interested in operating Tradex and then bring its recommendation to council – likely several months from now – for consideration.
Braun told council that some people have questioned why the city is considering different options for Tradex, which has held various trade shows over the years, including the Vancouver Motorcycle Show and the West Coast Women’s Show.
“I’ve explained to them that what we have here is a building where we’ve invested millions of dollars but we receive no revenue from it; the revene’s all gone to Tourism Abbotsford,” he said.
Braun said the city spent $1.5 million to replace the Tradex roof in 2015, and the gravel parking lot should be paved over.
“But if there’s no revenue to the city, on whose behalf we are stewarding that asset, I think we do need to look at: are there ways to receive some money? Otherwise, the taxpayers are subsidizing, to a large degree, a building on which we receive no funds.”
A staff report to council stated that Devencore was selected as the leading proponent for the brokerage role from among 10 submissions because of its “significant aerospace expertise and past projects that strongly parallel the Tradex building.”
“This experience provides advantages such as navigating issues around airport properties, including zoning compliancy. Devoncore Company Ltd. also provides consulting services at no additional fee,” the report states.
The Devencore website states that its services include facilities/project management and brokerage/transaction, including lease renewals, lease reviews and space expansion or reduction.
The company has several offices across Canada, including one in Vancouver.
The staff report states that the future use of Tradex and potential revenue “will be determined by the market.”
The only financial information provided in the staff report is that the city will pay Devencore brokerage fees of 2.5 per cent for the initial year and 1.5 per cent in additional years.
The City of Abbotsford announced in March that it had issued a request for proposals for brokerage/advisory services for Tradex as the first step towards “transforming the property into a revenue-generating asset.”
Tourism Abbotsford has been running the facility since 2003, with all revenue generated reinvested into the property and Tourism Abbotsford operations.
The announcement in March resulted in a petition being started by the producers of several of the events held at Tradex, saying they are concerned that they will no longer be able to hold their shows there. The petition states that the building is the only facility of its kind in the Fraser Valley that is capable of holding large-scale events.
Almost 300,000 people attend events there each year, resulting in direct spending of $14.8 million in the community, the petition states.
Braun said Tourism Abbotsford could be among the groups that submit proposals for the operation of Tradex.