401 West Georgia. The Diocesan Offices are on the fifth floor

Diocesan Council last month decided that the Diocesan Synod Office will continue to be located at its present site in downtown Vancouver for another decade.

The approved the offer from Oxford Properties to continue the lease on the fifth floor of 401 West Georgia Street through March of 2016.

Treasurer Jim Stewart said that a task force headed by Dean Peter Elliott had advised that downtown Vancouver was currently the best location for a Synod Office. He reported the offer from the current landlord was the lowest of several investigated. Renewal of the lease had been recommended by the diocesan Administration and Finance Committee.

Treasurer Stewart said the committee had considered renewing the lease only through 2011, but felt that then – a year after the Vancouver Winter Olympics – market rents very likely would be considerably higher than the rate now offered. He said that vacancy rates for downtown offices have already dropped over the past year.

The Diocesan Synod Office, located on the north side of the office tower at the corner of West Georgia and Homer Street, overlooks a cathedral. Unfortunately it is the Roman Catholic Holy Rosary Cathedral. Christ Church Cathedral is five blocks to the west.

Business Administrator Mike Wellwood said he investigated locating the synod offices nearer the diocesan Anglican Cathedral, but could not justify the additional cost that would entail.

Beginning on March 1 of next year, the annual rent for the office of approximately 4,193 square feet will be $17.50 per square foot for the first five years, increasing to $19.50 after 2011. Currently the rent is $13.05.

In addition to the rent, an annual charge is made for operating costs (heat, light, janitorial, security, etc.) and property taxes. Currently these are $8.94 per square foot in operating costs and $5.37 for taxes. The diocese must pay property taxes because the office is not located on church property exempt from such taxation. Both operating costs and the taxes are subject to annual adjustment.

Chancellor George Cadman said that the rate offered was significantly lower than what most tenants must pay for similar properties.

Oxford Properties also agreed to pay for up to about $60,000 for leasehold improvements when the new lease is signed.