Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/2/2009 (3115 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Commercial realtors are demanding answers after the Winnipeg Square Parkade -- a city-owned property worth at least $35 million -- was briefly listed for sale by property developer Shindico before other realtors had a chance to offer the city their services.
On Monday, Shindico's website advertised the sale of the three-level, 932-stall parkade as a "premier downtown parkade with air rights lease revenue." The sale price was listed as "to be negotiated" before the listing was removed on Tuesday.
Back in July, city council's alternate service delivery committee voted to explore the idea of selling the parkade, which generated $1.4 million during the most recent fiscal year and was dubbed a "gold mine at Portage and Main." The sale would also include the air rights to an office or hotel tower that could be erected over the south side of Winnipeg Square.
While city property managers have yet to decide whether to proceed with the sale, Shindico surprised commercial realtors in Winnipeg and city councillors by listing the parkade.
The realtor was merely trying to determine the value of the property, agent Bob Downs said in an interview on Tuesday.
"If the value warrants it, it may be sold," he said, explaining the process was merely exploratory.
Two hours later, the parkade's listing was deleted from Shindico's website. A spokeswoman for the city said the listing was made "in error" and three Winnipeg companies were selected to determine the value of the parkade.
But several Winnipeg commercial realtors are asking questions about the brief listing as a prelude to the actual sale of the parkade, which could generate anywhere from $500,000 to $900,000 in commissions.
"There are concerns that have been raised with us about the way this has been handled. We're beginning to have discussions about it," said Peter Squire, a spokesman for Winnipeg REALTORS, a professional organization. "We're going to see if these concerns are serious and if they're well-founded."
Last year, the city issued a call for qualifications to sell properties with commissions in excess of $100,000. A list of qualified firms was made in September, but the city has not made the names of those firms public.
Now, commercial realtors are asking questions about the parkade sale before it even proceeds, noting $35 million properties don't come on the market every day.
"It's not a cheese sandwich," said Derrick Chartier, president of CB Richard Ellis, who found it "very odd" to see a respected firm like Shindico post and remove the parkade listing.
"I don't know whether somebody from the real-estate side has stepped out of bounds or somebody from the city," added Ken Jones, senior managing vice-president of Cushman & Wakefield LePage. "Certainly, we would like to see the opportunity to pitch (our) skill set."
St. Norbert Coun. Justin Swandel, who started the push to sell the parkade, said he has no idea why Shindico made the erroneous posting. In July, Swandel and Couns. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) and Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) merely asked city property managers to find out how much private companies would be willing to pay for the 30-year-old structure.
At the time, the councillors surmised potential proceeds from the parkade's sale could be used to fix two other parkades owned by the Winnipeg Parking Authority and also eliminate the agency's debt, which artificially reached $6.6 million last year due to the former practice of transferring parking profits to general city revenues. As well, Mayor Sam Katz said he wasn't sure Winnipeg should be in the business of providing parking in the most lucrative corner of the city.
Now, Vandal is wondering whether he's been duped and the sale of the parkade is a foregone conclusion.
"This is scandalous. This whole place needs a comprehensive audit from top to bottom. We need to look at how we deal with real estate and the personalities involved," he said when informed of the Shindico listing.
"We have a real estate department in Winnipeg to sell these sorts of things. We have something called the public interest, and that seems to be foreign to some people around here."
Shindico president Sandy Shindleman and executive vice-president Robert Shindleman sit on the board of Riverside Park Management, the non-profit organization that sublets city land to the Katz-owned Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball club.