Building's owner says it’s a legal formality
The Simcoe Corporate Centre on Robinson Street in Simcoe is currently listed under power-of-sale on a Canadian real estate website. Owner Grant Sanders says power-of-sale will come off the 65,000-square-foot complex once he has a new mortgage in place. Norfolk council will discuss the status of the building in closed session next week. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER
The Simcoe Corporate Building on Robinson Street is on the agenda of a closed-door meeting of Norfolk council next week.
Council will discuss an overture from building owner Grant Sanders, who said last week he’d like to sell the property and that Norfolk – as the major tenant – is the logical buyer.
But council will also discuss something else, namely that the 65,000-square-foot property has been listed Canada-wide under power-of-sale.
Wednesday, Sanders said the power-of-sale is a legal formality that occurs when a property transitions from one mortgage holder to a new mortgage holder.
Sanders says his two-year mortgage with VersaBank, of London, is up this month and that power-of-sale is in effect until he secures a new mortgage. Sanders expects that to happen Aug. 18, adding he is putting the finishing touches on a five-year mortgage with the Bank of Montreal.
“It’s resolved and done,” Sanders said. “There is no power-of-sale. That’s old news. It should be done by the 18th. This is legal-eagle stuff.”
The broker-of-record for the power-of-sale is Louis Maalouf of Toronto. Two properties are listed under the power-of-sale. They are the Simcoe Corporate Centre and the Woodside Greens golf course west of Simcoe on Charlotteville Road 10. The asking price for the two properties is $25 million. Sanders also owns Woodside Greens.
Wednesday, Maalouf confirmed that Sanders is transitioning between mortgages and that power-of-sale is a standard part of that process.
“He’s hoping to refinance and retire the process,” Maalouf said. “He has some time and he will try. He has assured us he will.”
On Wednesday, Norfolk Mayor Charlie Luke said council will entertain a confidential report about the building next week. Some on Norfolk council believe the county should buy the building outright and stop paying rent. Luke is withholding judgment because he doesn’t know at this point whether ownership makes economic sense.
“It’s going to be a matter of simple mathematics,” Luke said. “At this point, I can’t envision staff moving out of that building in 15 years. I won’t know where this is going till Tuesday. I’ll have to get out the calculator and see.”
Norfolk is two years into a 15-year lease on the property. Norfolk’s rent in the first five years is nearly $1 million annually. In the final five years, this rises to nearly $1.5 million a year.
Many acknowledge this is a generous lease and more than the county needed to pay for the administrative space it was lacking after Haldimand-Norfolk Region was restructured into two standalone counties in 2000.
However, the county committed to the project as the major tenant to spur development at the former American Can property, which had sat derelict for more than 10 years at a busy intersection in Simcoe.
Norfolk County was also attempting to compensate for allowing unfettered retail development on the Queensway, a policy shift that has depressed parts of downtown Simcoe.
At this point, Sanders says his priority is “to stabilize” the building and then find a buyer by the end of September.
Sanders says he has turned down numerous offers to buy the building but has held out to fill it with “triple-A” tenants. Sanders said last week that the building should be occupied by the end of the year.
“I’ll sell it to a pension fund or I’ll sell it to the county,” Sanders said Wednesday. “I’ll do something by September. The county has a very small window in which to react. That window will come and go very quickly.”
Maalouf’s power-of-sale document says the Simcoe Corporate Centre property covers 4.2 acres. The Woodside Greens golf course is listed at 204 acres. The course is a 5,604-yard par 69 and includes a terrace and a club house.