Here is a most unusual real estate transaction of interest to real estate agents. Who is experienced enough to be the agent for a flip on a derelict abandoned floating McDonalds restaurant? Is it real estate or a ship?
The property in question is the McBarge featured in Vancouver’s 1986 World Fair Expo to celebrate Vancourer’s centennial. Towed in 1991 from its False Creek waterfront location to Burrard Inlet, southwestern British Columbia, and languishing there for 30 years, $4.5 million is reportedly being spent by developer Howard Meakin to restore the “ship” previously known as the Friendship 500.
This was never your typical McDonald’s. Sited on water, it offered stunning views, nautical-uniformed wait staff, and classy garden rooms with tasteful art. About 1,500 meals a day were delivered from a hidden kitchen to the serving counter via a unique conveyor belt.
Mr. Meakin, Sturgeon’s Developments president, was unable to say what exactly was planned for the McBarge once the rust and graffiti were removed due to a non-disclosure agreement. He did divulge that it will be linked to the Expo’s 30th anniversary in 2016. The fair was a tribute to future technology and architecture, thus the McBarge’s futuristic conveyor belt and architecture using very little wood. Three other remaining legacies of Expo 86 are BC Place, Canada Place and Science World.
The 187-foot-long concrete, steel and alucobond® structure clad with porcelain-dipped aluminum panels was originally one of five McDonald’s locations at the Expo all built for a total of $12 million. The consulting naval architects for the McBarge were from Robert Allan Ltd. Studies were conducted on the hull’s strength and Meakin said, “The superstructure is in very good structural condition.” Built to last 99 years, it contains 8,600 square feet on the main deck and 6,800 square feet on the top deck.
It was moved from its mooring at Berry Point in Burrard Inlet the end of 2015 to “a secure, monitored marine facility in Maple Ridge” for its multi-million-dollar exterior and interior base building upgrade. Meakin could not say where it will be located when the work is completed.
A Save the McBarge Facebook page was created by 26-year-old Adam Lewis after he saw the relic in north Burnaby on a drive with friends and researched its history. The site, “dedicated to the preservation of the McBarge,” contains pictures and the history of the vessel along with posts from people who remember eating there during the Expo.
There are five general classifications for real estate based on use: residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and special-purpose subdivided into sales, involving transfer of title, and rental, involving transfer of space on a rental basis. Theoretically, a real estate firm can handle all five types, but real estate agents are cautioned in their classes not to get involved with properties outside their area of expertise, such as a floating restaurant.
Mark Chase who writes about restaurant real estate advice warns that for potential restaurant buyers who work with brokers who sell homes, office buildings, or apartments it is “as dangerous as hiring a dentist for heart surgery.” It can be even more dangerous to be the listing or selling agent in such a transaction, and the McBarge adds a ship to the complexity.
One of the duties and liabilities of a real estate agent to a principal is care, skill and diligence. An agent is expected to have skill and expertise in the transaction superior to that of the average person to act on the principal’s behalf. Agents can be found negligent and liable for any losses as a result of that negligence or carelessness. The transfer of ownership of the Friendship 500 in 1999 to Kathy and Howard Meakin required unusual expertise.
Read the Burnabynow site for the McBarge’s timeline up through 2014 where Meakin is quoted as saying, “It’s the most complicated real estate deal I have done in my 45 years in development.”