The city is on the verge of another major real estate deal to sell off land it owns.
This time it’s a $1.025 million sale of 2.03 hectares on the northwest corner of Keith and Kenney on the southside to Onstein Bros. Holdings, the company which owns the city’s Chrysler and Toyota dealerships, a car rental agency and an RV sales business – all located on Hwy16 West.
Rob Onstein said last week that the company needs more room and could eventually move its Toyota dealership to the new location. “We have been actively looking for property for some expansion,” said Onstein. “We’re just running out of space.”
YaoRun, a forestry company specializing in export, is now occupying the location under a lease arrangement with the city struck just over a year ago.
Onstein said coming to an arrangement with YaoRun is on the ‘to do’ list as the sales deal with the city moves to a finish.
“We’re committed, as is the city, to work with all stakeholders to make sure the transition is smooth and works for everyone.”
It is uncertain at this point if the lease agreement YaoRun has with the city will be taken on by Onstein Holdings.
YaoRun currently leases three parcels from the city totalling 20 acres along the 5000 Block of Keith and the amount of land the Onstein company is buying is one quarter of that at five acres (2.03 hecatres), which would leave YaoRun room to continue its operations.
The parcel is zoned for light industrial use and a zoning amendment to commercial use would have to be done if a Toyota dealership were to operate there.
“If we were to build a Toyota dealership on that piece of property it’s going to change the nature of that area from an industrial nature to a commercial nature,” said Onstein, adding that he foresees an evolution of that section of Keith.
“It’s close to downtown and we would hope to be the first of many commercial type [operations] and that makes it start looking better than it has been instead of a sad memory of what this town used to be.”
That’s in reference to the property once being the log storage yard for a large sawmill just across the road from Kenney and Keith. The Skeena Cellulose mill, finished in 1988, was the city’s major employer until it went into bankruptcy in the early part of the last decade.
An attempt by local investors to keep the mill running also failed and the mill was dismantled beginning in late 2006.
The city ended up owning the property, including the log yard, in a complex set of circumstances arising when the local investors, the Terrace Lumber Company, did not stay in business.
Terrace mayor David Pernarowski said this land deal is part of the city’s ongoing push to liquidate its property holdings.
He said Onstein Holdings approached the city with interest in the Keith land.
“Lots of interest for along Keith,” said the mayor. “We are looking at opportunity right now and like everyone else trying to manage those requests.”
Since August the city has made three major land sales. The first was in late August of 4.38 hectares at Skeena Industrial Development Park land to an earthworks company called Global Dewatering at a cost of $250,000. Then last month a blockbuster deal was made that saw 66.7 hectares of airport lands sold to Kitselas First Nation’s Kitselas Development Corporation for $1,647,700.