An offer by a developer for the long-vacant RONA building in Cowichan Commons has been accepted, but the sale is still conditional at this stage.
Shane Epp, with the commercial real estate firm CBRE Ltd. and the listing agent on behalf of the building’s owners, said the only information that he is at liberty to provide at this point in the deal is that the buyer is a developer who would be looking to secure some retail and/or office tenants for the building.
“They have a few in mind they are working with, but these are very early days,” Epp said from his Vancouver office.
The 73,000 sq. ft. building contains two large warehouse areas, office and boardroom space, a secure parking area and other amenities.
RONA was one of the anchor tenants in the Cowichan Commons when the shopping centre was first constructed in 2008, but it closed down a few years later and the building has been vacant ever since.
Last year, Lowe’s Canada, which has a lease on the building that expires next month, granted permission to sub-lease the facility in an arrangement with Film Cowichan as a potential production facility.
Film Cowichan operates under the banner of Economic Development Cowichan to promote the region as a film destination and to help local governments, business organizations and visiting production companies coordinate film activity in the Cowichan Valley.
“The former RONA building is an incredible asset for the film industry on Vancouver Island,” said Amy Melmock, manager of Economic Development Cowichan which operates Film Cowichan, at the time.
“We heard from industry that there is a lack of production space on the Island and responded by seeking out this opportunity. We’re proud to be connecting the dots in providing economic benefit to the region and to the industry as a whole.”
No film crews have ever been reported working from the RONA building since then, and Melmock couldn’t be immediately reached for comment on what happened to those plans.
Jon Lefebure, chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District which runs the EDC, said he has little information to share on the issue. “There was some interest by a number of independent film companies, but I haven’t heard any conversations around film projects in the RONA building for months.”