$70m in commercial real estate listed for sale

The Calypso Building and Walker Arcade has been on the market for $8 million for 21 months (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

The D Rego building at 75 Reid Street was on the market for more than a decade before finally selling this year.

Providing a surprising amount of frontage to Reid Street east, it features retail and office space across two building addresses with the buildings connected on three storeys.

With a total square footage of nearly 20,000 feet, it has nine different rentable units, elevator access and even a large warehouse loading area. It was listed for just under $2 million.

Ben Rego, sales agent manager at Rego Sotheby’s International Realty, took over the property across from Fagan’s Alley.

“I had it as a listing for just less than a year and it sold as the market has been improving,” he said.

The sale cheered more than just the staff at Rego Sotheby’s. Jane Burt, owner of Think Real Estate, also took heart.

She is trying to sell 92 Reid Street, directly across the street.

“We signed the agreement in August,” she said. “So 92 Reid Street has not been on the market long. Commercial properties do take longer to sell. On Front Street right now we have an awful lot of retail space and commercial space that is empty.”

92 Reid Street is just one of 33 commercial properties, totalling more than $70 million, listed on the Propertyskipper.com real-estate website. The largest item on the list is the old Lantana Cottage Colony in Sandys, for sale at $16.9 million.

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The total number of properties is not so different from the 40 listed in July 2019, but several properties from two years ago are still there with greatly reduced prices.

For example, Veritas Place, at 65 Court Street, with seven floors and 18,595sq ft, has also been on the market for some time, with the price dropping from $4.6 million in July 2019 to $3.8 million today.

Magnolia Place, on Victoria Street in Hamilton, has seen a dramatic price drop from $6 million two years ago to $2.5 million today.

The 36,000sq ft Calypso Building and Walker Arcade, on Front Street, has been for sale since January last year. Its $8-million asking price has stayed constant so far.

“Over the last 12 years, the commercial sales side of the market had very, very low volume,” said Penny MacIntyre, partner at Rego Sotheby’s International Realty.

But she said there is demand for quality properties for sale in Hamilton.

“We have a high level of interest mostly from Bermudian buyers,” she said. “There are some companies that are interested as well, but mainly from those who have been able to benefit from saving and not travelling a lot. They want to invest their money locally and are wondering if now is a good time to purchase.”

She was seeing more interest from prospective buyers as owner occupiers than from those looking for speculative opportunities.

“Sometimes properties are staying on the market for a long time because their price point is higher than the market will tolerate,” Ms MacIntyre said.

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“With good pricing, property condition and location, things tend to sell quickly.

“The Calypso Building is a large property. You have some retail operations in there and a lot of tenancies throughout.”

But the large size of the building meant that the pool of possible buyers was smaller.

“It will take a very specific buyer with a large appetite and liquidity to do a deal like that,” Ms MacIntyre said.

Erna DeGraff, a real estate agent with MainPoint Realty, said that the pandemic is actually helping real-estate sales.

“With the pandemic everything is selling now,” the 18-year industry veteran said.

She tends to focus on North Hamilton, and more on the residential side than commercial.

She is currently one of the agents working to sell a two-storey commercial space with rental units at 28 Elliott Street for $550,000.

Ms DeGraff said that the current real-estate market is hard but busy.

“When the price is right, things move,” she said.

Ms Burt, of Think Real Estate, would love to see more commercial buildings in Hamilton turned into residential space.

“We have so much commercial space,” she said.

She said that the cost of converting a commercial building into residential and bringing it up to city codes is something to consider.

“But probably in the future that will be what we will see,” Ms Burt said.

Ms MacIntyre echoed that sentiment, noting that to improve Hamilton’s economy, more city residents are needed.

And increased shopping attractions should include more international brands.

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