A group of local residents is planning to submit a bid for the long-term operation of Tradex in Abbotsford.
The group, operating under the title Thrive Campus Ltd., wants to retro-fit the trade and exhibition facility into an “athletics and holistic health centre” that would also be able to accommodate trade and consumer shows, as well as community festivals and events.
Thrive spokesperson Ken Baerg said the the group’s vision is to have up to 15 basketball/volleyball courts (including a feature court with stands), outdoor beach volleyball, large scale pickleball, an indoor turf area for soccer skill development, a climbing wall, and potentially an indoor straight track.
Baerg said Thrive also hopes to create a centre for medical and para-medical services with an emphasis on mental health and resiliency training.
He said Thrive is also in discussions with University of the Fraser Valley on programming for Aboriginal, para-sport and new-immigrant sport management programs.
“Of course, we would also be looking to retain significant consumer show activity to help with the financial viability of this project,” he said.
“The retention of shows, coupled with a strong sport tourism opportunity with tournaments and festivals along with our centre for holistic health, could drive even greater economic impact for the city and its stakeholders.”
Baerg said the scale of the project would be “one of a kind” in the province. He said Abbotsford already has a deficit of sports and recreation buildings and the Thrive project would offer something that the city would have to build at some point anyway.
He acknowledged that the project can’t compete with a warehousing or distribution company.
“Those are big-dollar operations with massive cash flows. For our bid to be successful, the city will have to take significantly less in lease revenue with the knowledge that Abbotsford citizens will benefit in a big way from sports and recreation infrastructure and with appreciation for the significant spending that goes on as a result of consumer show and event activity,” Baerg said.
The facility is the second largest of its kind in B.C. and, in a typical year, hosts more than 90 events. These include the Vancouver Motorcycle Show, the West Coast Women’s Show, the Pet Lover Show, the Snowbird RV Show and the West Coast Christmas Show.
Baerg said 15 of 24 events surveyed said they require at least 120,000 square feet of space, and all 24 said they would not use another Abbotsford venue for their shows.
“That $20 million of economic impact will be gone … That translates into businesses like hotels, restaurants and other retailers not surviving and many, many jobs being lost.”
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.” (Devencore – now CDN Global – was awarded the contract for that at the end of May.)
Tourism Abbotsford has been running Tradex since 2003, with all revenue generated reinvested into the property and Tourism Abbotsford operations.
The city listed the building for sale or lease in September, with the city retaining ownership of the 13-acre property.
There is no sale price listed but, according to the BC Assessment Authority website, the 147,640-square-foot building was worth $6.142 million as of July 1, 2020. The land was valued at $5.55 million.
Any sale of the building would come with an annual land lease of $6.19 per square metre – a total of almost $325,000.
Basic rent to lease the building is also not listed – interested parties are asked to contact the broker – but would come with an additional rent of $4 per square metre.
The building would be available for lease as of July 2022, according to a brochure posted about the lease/sale.