Vancouver's Powell Street construction sparks dispute
Fencing and equipment from the Powell Street Overpass construction is irking tenants of 903 Powell, whose parking lot is owned by the city. (PHOTO COURTESY OF PAUL COLEMAN)
Vancouver's year-long construction of a Powell St. overpass to the city’s port may force at least one local business to move, sparking a row between a landlord and his catering company tenant.
The dispute centres around 903 Powell St., a property bought by construction firm owner Leon Menkis more than 20 years ago. Several of his tenants told 24 hours he didn’t inform them there was a city easement on the property's parking lot when they signed leases more than a year ago. One business said it has now lost access to its loading bay and had tall construction fencing erected within metres of its entrance.
“The worst part is there is work equipment right up against my garage door at times. Sometimes the fence moves and we can't get out,” said eight-year tenant Paul Coleman, owner of Bread Garden Catering. “You can imagine what that does to a business.”
Another tenant echoed Coleman's concerns, but asked not to be identified.
Menkis said he didn't know there was an easement and is therefore not to blame, adding Bread Garden Catering has refused to pay its rent for three months during the dispute.
“The impact it's giving me is a bloody headache,” the Menkis Construction Ltd. president said. “They had an easement I didn't even know about.
“We offered (Coleman) $1,000 off his rent for the inconvenience, but he did not accept it – let him go to the city, that's where he should complain, not me.”
Construction of the overpass, part of a $50 million renovation, began in June and is scheduled to end next July, rerouting an estimated 30,000 vehicles. It is mostly funded by Port Metro Vancouver and Transport Canada.
A City of Vancouver spokeswoman told 24 hours officials are working to “minimize impact” on the lot, which will be repaved once work ends this summer.