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Function landlords optimistic despite vacancies

Judging by the signs hung in windows and perched along the road there...

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"The vacancies are not an indication that business is bad, it’s an indication that… our rents are too high, we’re discouraging people from coming into the community," said Wensley.

Wensley believes that the high number of vacancies will be positive in the long run, forcing landlords to lower prices while bringing more businesses to town. In addition, lease rates in Pemberton and Squamish are going up, he says, which will help drive more business to Function Junction.

The proof is in his new building, where he says he already has four new businesses that were not in Function Junction before.

He also doesn’t mind the fact that a proposed development at 1330 Alpha Lake Road will make competition even harder. That project includes 21 residential apartments, more than 24,500 square feet of office space and another 23,290 square feet of light industrial or retail space.

He doesn’t object to the competition for warehouse space, but to the idea that the municipality would approve a project that will see people living next to a concrete plant, under hydro lines, on a busy stretch of road, in a dirty, noisy industrial park.

"There’s nowhere near to walk, play, escape from their units…. If the planning department set out to find the worst location to put housing in Whistler, they could not have picked a better spot," said Wensley.

As for the vacancies, he says things should look better in the near future.

"My prediction is that the vacancies will last another year and a half, but I’ll make you a wager that in the meantime there will be an adjustment in rents. By December of 2005 there won’t be any vacancies in this industrial area, but there will be a little heartache along the way."

Meredith also believes that things will improve.

"As far as leasing commercial spaces, we’ve been anticipating this excess supply situation for quite some time, basically because of the new building that was built at the end of the road," he said.

"I’d say we’re pretty healthy, given the fact that there’s some vacancy down there – if I was landlord I wouldn’t be happy, but as a new tenant coming into town they’ll have selection and maybe a little more negotiating power.

"At the same time we’ve got to recognize that there is a bit of flattening. We’ve been under such incredible growth in Whistler for so long, we just presumed there would continue to be incredible growth. But with the decline in real estate development in town, it does tend to slow the demand for other services.

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