Killam building tenants upset

Carla
Carla Allen
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Operators of Waterfront Antiques and Collectibles, and the Yarmouth Waterfront Gallery are shocked and angered after being informed that they must vacate the town-owned Killam Brothers building on Water Street by May 31.
CARLA ALLEN PHOTO

Operators of Waterfront Antiques and Collectibles and the Yarmouth Waterfront Gallery are shocked and angered after being informed they must vacate the town-owned Killam Brothers building on Water Street by May 31.

The town is terminating existing leases and inviting letters of interest from interested parties to lease commercial space.

Mayor Pam Mood says the leasing situation is being addressed not because the current tenants aren’t suitable, but to eliminate the need for taxpaying property owners to subsidize the town's leases.

Council is taking action after receiving a financial analysis of the leases and the overall Killam building operation.

“The analysis pointed out that the building represents approximately $48,000 in annual operating costs, and recovers less than $7,000 in revenue,” she said.

In 1997 Sperry and Partners developed, through consultation, a plan for the redevelopment of the property. At the time the community agreed that inappropriate financial outcomes would include: operating at a financial loss (revenues less than expenses), becoming a burden on the community and adversely competing with the private sector.

Mood says the council is applying similar principles in offering the space to competitive lease proposals.  

“The present tenants are private businesses whose leases expired five and six years ago, and who have been operating on a month-to-month basis since that time,” she said.  

Mood added that the current process does not in any way exclude the current tenants.

“They are encouraged to submit their proposals.  This process will allow them to pay a higher rent, but will not give them exclusive access to a heavy subsidy for their businesses,” she said. 

A seasonally operated museum on the first floor is under a long-term lease arrangement.  

Sue Bain and Kevin Selig operate the antique business on the second and third floors of the building, along with close to a dozen other vendors.

Bain says she’s very disappointed with the way the situation is being handled.

“They aren’t even giving us a chance to pay a higher rent. We’ve spent six years building this business and people have come from all over Nova Scotia.

“I send people to restaurants and other businesses in the area all the time.”

Brochures for the business, featuring the present location, have already been printed.

The co-operative that operates the seasonal gallery downstairs has been in the building for a decade. The leasing situation caused them to give up their advertising spot in the Nova Star ferry publication.

Some of the tenants say they have heard the building is being vacated for a new call centre for ferry reservations.

Julie Walters, director of Nova Star Discovery, says the rumour is “100 per cent untrue.”

 Letters of interest will be received at town hall until March 11 and applicants have been advised that cost will not be the sole determining factor in the decision to award the right to negotiate a final lease.

The Town of Yarmouth reserves the right to reject any or all proposals or to negotiate with one or more firms.

 

Organizations: Sperry and Partners

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Yarmouth

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Recent comments

  • Shirley Stephens
    February 10, 2014 - 08:48

    This is an unbelievable situation. Here are two things that draw people to Yarmouth and they are being told they must clear out on May 31st just before the tourist season begins. The new boat will draw some people who come on a cruise and they always want to take home a small reminder of Yarmouth. What is better within walking distance than an antique shop or Art Gallery. At least give them a chance to pay more rent or until after the tourist season to move.

  • Shirley Stephens
    February 10, 2014 - 08:47

    This is an unbelievable situation. Here are two things that draw people to Yarmouth and they are being told they must clear out on May 31st just before the tourist season begins. The new boat will draw some people who come on a cruise and they always want to take home a small reminder of Yarmouth. What is better within walking distance than an antique shop or Art Gallery. At least give them a chance to pay more rent or until after the tourist season to move.

  • Roy Killam
    February 08, 2014 - 23:27

    What does the $ 48,000 per year expenses cover ??

  • Mary Margaret Pitt
    February 08, 2014 - 21:36

    I don't see people lining up to rent any of the retail spaces on Main St. So, what makes them think that this spot will be any different? Do we have to look forward to yet another vacant store front in Yarmouth?

  • John Levac
    February 08, 2014 - 17:40

    While not ideal, the current tenants have been with out a lease for quite sometime. If they want to stay there they simply have to pay market price for the space. The town is not in a position to subsidize private enterprise . As for a call center , it would be quite costly to have it there. a call center requires expensive telecommunications equipment and data drops. There a several locations empty in town that already have these in place.

    • Jeff Bain
      February 09, 2014 - 08:05

      Are you against subsidies overall or just against smaller business? I could be way off here but I'm pretty sure Register.com has received subsidies in the past. Payroll and tax rebates count in there. I'm not disagreeing with the subsidies received by Register. They have done good things here and been a major employer and economy driver for years. My second point is that these vendors have not disagreed with paying for their space. They're not being given the shot they deserve for their commitment to our town over the past several years.

  • Jim & Heather Rideout
    February 08, 2014 - 15:14

    What a shame! It's reminiscent of what the NDP government did to the area when it pulled the plug on the Cat. With only 3 months until the new ferry service is scheduled to start and advertising already in the works, these businesses are left in the lurch, as are whoever might replace them. And, with new tourist business set to come to the area, who's to say their revenues won't increase significantly? A gallery and an antique store are an asset to our downtown and waterfront tourist areas. But the main point remains: they should have had 6 month's to a year's notice. The Town has carried them this long; one more season won't break us. Reconsider these evictions.

    • Sue Hutchins
      February 08, 2014 - 18:26

      Thanks for the support Jim/Heather. I agree completely that the timing on this is the biggest frustration. This could all have been done last Fall. So much for 'All hands on deck". We feel like we are being made to 'walk the plank'. We have no opportunity to develop an advertising campaign. The newest tenant will not take legal possession until June 1. If it is us, we will lose the first month; if it is not us, new tenants will have to redevelop the space and lose another few weeks. There is no 'heart' in this decision.

  • Kathleen Fitzgerald
    February 08, 2014 - 14:53

    Let's hope it's not being vacated for another lingerie store, tattoo parlour or a quick checks cashed store ..