For sale!

Town in talks with province, possible buyers for EXCITE building

Andrea Gunn
Published on July 28, 2014

The EXCITE was constructed 2001 by the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor with some funding from the federal government and the province to help create jobs enhance local economic development. It is located on Queensway Park and currently has a number of tenants such as Hockey NL, the provincial government, a call centre and DPSI.

Andrea Gunn photo

Just over a month after Grand Falls-Windsor town council voted to postpone the sale of the EXCITE building, the town is now looking divest of the controversial property after a private buyer expressed interest in purchasing the building.

The building was constructed in 2001 by the town, with some funding from the federal government and the province, to help create jobs enhance local economic development by attracting information and technology-related enterprise to the community. The building cost 2.3 million dollars when it was constructed 13 years ago.

Since then there has been debate locally about whether or not the town should be in a landlord-tenant agreement, and if it should be taking business away from the private sector.

In June, after some discussion, council voted to hold on to the building for the time being. At the time Mayor Al Hawkins cited possible new tenants, and more notably, a $600,000 lien on the building from the province, as the major reasons. He said because the province had put no other money into the building during its 13 years of existence, the town didn’t want to sell until that lien was forgiven. The Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency (ACOA) also had a similar lien on the building but had forgiven their portion.

During Tuesday’s council meeting, the EXCITE building came up again. This time it was to recommend the finance committee develop a sale procedure for the property.

“We don’t want to divest of that building with the lien that’s on the mortgage. We want that (dealt with), so we’re trying to increase our talks with the province and get this done and out of the way so we can move on and get rid of the building,” Hawkins told the Advertiser.

Hawkins said while the town has talked with the province, the process has been delayed due to some cabinet shuffles.  However, in his opinion, the possibility of getting the lien forgiven does look promising.

“The logical thing is for the province to forgive their lien on that and let us have a clear title to that land and a clear title to the EXCITE building,“ Hawkins said. ”We’re hoping within the next couple weeks we’ll be able to get that cleared up and out of the way.”

If the province forgives the lien on the building, Hawkins said it would also relieve the town of its responsibility to have to get two commercial appraisals of the EXCITE building before sale, something Hawkins said he believes is unnecessary and a waste of money.

Other than continued correspondence with the province, the next step would be for the town to consider potential buyers.

“The director of finance will talk with the person who showed an interest, and we would have to see if there are other people interested in purchasing the building as well because we have to make that option available,” he said.

Though the town will lose rental money – approximately $100,000 a year – when the building is sold, Hawkins said it will use the sale money to pay other debts, thus saving even more in interest payments.

He said that, coupled with property tax the town would collect from the property, would work out to more money for the town in the long run. These points were initially raised by Finance and Administration committee chair, councillor Rodney Mercer, in the discussion surrounding the sale of the building in June.

 “We never did want to be in the landlord business but we were doing an incubator type thing for technology, that model has changed a bit over the last number of years, we moved away from that model,” Hawkins said. “We have empty space over there, we can’t really advertise for rental…and we can’t forever hold on to a building on speculation (of possible tenants).”

The EXCITE building is located on Queensway Park and has a number of tenants including Hockey NL, the provincial government, a call centre and DPSI.