After eight years of vacancy and let’s face it – an eyesore on the city’s main drag – the corner lot of Victoria Street and Pine Avenue is up for sale.
Listed at $629,000, the former Imperial Oil (Esso) retail site has been cleaned up to meet environmental standards required for a sale – and there has already been some bites.
Jack McConnachie from Re/Max All Pro Realty says the commercial site is all set for experienced developers to step in, though to date, interest is from outside the Trail area.
“Chances of someone doing it locally are pretty slim,” he told the Trail Times, mentioning the property is currently owned by someone in the Lower Mainland.
“It has to be someone experienced in the development business … and there are a number of major chains interested in it … it is a package ready to go.”
The 22,000-square foot lot has undergone a number of remediation measures over the years, including the drilling of wells and use of an enzymatic process (oil-eating microbes) before the site was issued a certificate of compliance.
While a near decade of vacancy dragged on, in terms of remediation, eight years is quite palatable, says McConnachie.
“This one was a fairly fast clean up,” he explained. “It wasn’t bad to begin with, some stations can go for 20 years before you get the right readings on them.”
McConnachie says the potential sale and redevelopment of the big empty lot is a great news story for Trail, but he could only speculate on the other vacant property right across the street.
One year before Esso closed, the Petro Canada station boarded up and has since been a forlorn site on the city’s central corridor.
“It’s another one that had the same issue,” said McConnachie. “But I can’t tell you how close they are on their permit yet.”
Weeks after the former Trail Esso closed in 2009, city council wrote Imperial Oil asking the landowners for quick action to remedy the unsightly corner marking the west entrance to downtown.
The sheer size of the gravel lot and its primary locale has cast a shadow over the city ever since, especially in recent years. In an attempt to make the site a litte more eye-pleasing, the municipality disguised the property by wrapping the chain link fence with “Explore your Trail” canvas.
So “For Sale” is a good sign.
And it’s likely part of a ripple-effect following the city’s $30 million in investments, which began with fixing up Victoria Street back in 2013.
“This is a high exposure property at the entrance to the downtown area and it would certainly be great to have this site, which has sat empty for so many years, see a development that embraces and enhances the Victoria Street corridor,” said Trail Mayor Mike Martin.
“Such a business would overcome the negative stigma associated with having such a significant and visible piece of property remain vacant.”
Council is pleased to see the owners of the old Esso lot recognize there is an opportunity for development, he continued.
“We’d be delighted to see the construction of a new and modern business that will complement the existing downtown businesses and the recent improvements the city has made to downtown amenities.”
At the outset of its term, city council recognized that a key to advancing revitalization efforts and community pride initiatives would be an investment in civic infrastructure projects and activities, Martin pointed out.
“With the anticipation of achieving increased confidence in the community such that this would be a catalyst to attracting increased business and housing activity,” he said.
“With the advancement of the Victoria Street Corridor Improvement project, the Victoria Street Bridge Lighting, the Columbia River Skywalk, the Riverfront Centre, along with the rehabilitation of the Trail Regional Airport runway and the construction of a new Terminal Building, there has been considerable increased business activity supported by considerable private investment taking place.”
He says there is renewed excitement and pride within the City of Trail.
“A quick walk through our business communities in both the downtown and East Trail area will provide a first-hand evidence of considerable investment in both current and new business activities,” Martin shared.
“This is a very exciting time for Trail as we see more new businesses opening.”