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Businesses asked to delay Olympic deals

Process to match available space with Olympic clients

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The Chamber of Commerce is urging local businesses to hold off renting their space to outside interests during the 2010 Olympics despite a growing demand.

Chamber president Louise Lundy said she knows there are groups actively looking for space in Whistler right now. And while she has not heard of any confirmed deals yet, she is well aware the pressure is mounting.

“What we want tenants and businesses to know is that we are working on a process to help match them with the right groups so there’s all kinds of opportunity,” she said. “There’s no need to rush into anything.”

The “right groups” are those associated with the Games and not the ambush marketers that also try to capitalize on Olympic opportunities without having paid for them.

“We want to just make sure that if they are going to lease out their space that they just lease it out to a group that is Olympic family related,” added Lundy.

The chamber is working with the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as the resort municipality and Tourism Whistler, to develope a process that will match interested parties with available space.

That process will be ready by July. In the meantime, Lundy is encouraging local businesses to delay any discussions or decisions.

Whistler Real Estate owner Pat Kelly said this week he had not heard of the chamber’s initiative.

He is planning to close his offices in Marketplace for at least the duration of the Games because traditionally real estate companies don’t do a lot of business during the Olympics.

While Kelly said he was open to hearing the chamber’s strategy, he wondered why he would delay a deal if it made good business sense.

“I don’t know that I would want to delay a good business decision because their strategy isn’t in place yet,” said Kelly.

“I want to (do) the best deal I can for my company.”

The chamber, and its partners, is asking for time. They will not be setting rates or negotiating leases. Those deals will be between the owners and the clients and Lundy said the market would set the lease rates.

“We expect that people are going to be business people and they’re going to do whatever is best for them and their situation,” said Lundy.

“We are going to appeal to their sense of community.”

Tricia Fenton, VANOC’s director of government service integration, said the strategy would balance the supply and demand for space. That will have an equalizing factor on the rates that are charged.

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