The city is about to take over the derelict St. Charles Hotel – sort of.
Council’s downtown committee voted Monday morning to begin the four-month process of taking title to the historic hotel in the Exchange District.
But owner Ken Zaifman can void the process by complying with a city order to install a working fire suppression system, including sprinklers and alarms. It’s been four years since the city first ordered a fire suppression system be installed as part of the vacant and derelict building bylaw.
Zaifman, a local immigration lawyer, told councilors that the system has been installed and needs only to be tested.
Zaifman said he was confident that will be done within 120 days, which means the city will lift its order and suspend the title process. Councillors still voted to begin the process of seizing the building, rather than laying the matter over for a month.
Even if Zaifman manages to comply with the vacant and derelict building bylaw, councilors and the head of Heritage Winnipeg expressed concern Zaifman will let the building stand vacant for years.
"My fear is that, once the sprinkler system is in place, he may just sit on the property," said downtown committee chair Mike Pagtakhan.