Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce is putting its building on the market

The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce is putting its two-storey building on the market and plans to move downtown now that few people are working in the office.

Its 3,000-square-foot building at 2133 Bowen Rd. will be on the market for $835,000 as of this week, Kim Smythe, president and chief executive of the Chamber, said Tuesday. It will be available for sale or lease through NAI Commercial Real Estate.

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“The board and management of the Chamber have made the decision to explore a return to downtown Nanaimo as part of the ongoing revitalization of the city centre. This ­decision opens many opportunities for the Chamber and its future ­activities,” Smythe said.

The 700-member Chamber has been covering utility costs for a largely empty building, he said. A few staff members will work in the office, but because of the pandemic activities such as special meetings and rentals have dried up.

Revenue from rentals is also gone as people move to online meetings.

Smythe spends most of his working time at home.

“It’s simply too large for us,”he said, adding that it is wasteful to having only a few people working in such a big space.

Benefits to relocating from the northern part of the city to the centre includes sending a message of support to the city’s core and providing easy access to city hall, which Smythe would normally go to several times a week.

The Chamber is also helping the downtown initiatives a new business improvement area, he said.

A specific downtown ­location has not been nailed down. There’s the possibility of ­purchasing space or leasing space. It would need to include room for group meetings for when it is safe to have them again.

Pre-COVID-19, the office was always busy with a range of activities including training, round-table meetings, and ­planning for special events.

The Chamber built its 17-year-old building, which includes a large basement area.

It’s not certain where the Chamber will be exactly. There’s the possibility of purchasing space or leasing something. It would need to include meeting space, which for now is in the future given the pandemic.

Exterior renovations will be completed by the ­Chamber, Smythe said, noting that the building has been well-­maintained.

“It’s a great building that has served the needs of the Chamber and its members for nearly two decades, however in order to remain relevant in this ever-changing environment, the timing is right for us to reinvent how we deliver services to the community.”

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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