Less than 24 hours after The Columbian newspaper reported it is in deep financial shit and will have to move back to its cruddy old building while trying to sell or lease its new, $30 million tower across from Esther Short Park, the city of Vancouver is making noises about purchasing the new building and making it into a new city hall.
The newspaper building at 415 W. Sixth St. could be an ideal resolution to the city’s decade-long effort to consolidate city operations under one roof, said Eric Holmes, the city’s economic development director. He said the building is the right size, in the right place and the price is in line with the $35 million to $40 million the city expects to spend redeveloping the Esther Short Building into a new City Hall.
And it might make sense in more ordinary times.
However, right now this trial balloon is likely to be met with widespread catcalls if not pitchforks. The idea that taxpayers would jump in to save publisher Scott Campbell’s skin in the midst of an historic economic collapse is outrageous on the face of it.
If the city is actually serious, they should wait a year or two and see how much the property is worth, ’cause there’s likely to be a lot of space up for lease in downtown Vancouver. As I’ve noted before, most commercial activity downtown other than the growth industry of criminal justice seems to center around development and related fields, like banking, insurance and engineering. Plus some restaurants who feed the developers on weekdays.
Maybe the new Columbian building would make a nice judicial annex for our fellow prisoners.