Killam building tenants upset

Carla Allen callen@thevanguard.ca
Published on February 8, 2014

Operators of Waterfront Antiques and Collectibles, and the Yarmouth Waterfront Gallery will be staying in the Killam Brothers building on Water Street for the summer.
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.