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This article was published 8/4/2015 (777 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE vacant downtown apartment building destroyed in a fire Monday was about to undergo a major redevelopment.
A local spokesman for the California-based owner said the three-storey brick apartment building on Hargrave Street had been gutted and the owner was about to initiate a major redevelopment of the structure.
"There was a redevelopment underway, rebuilding it as an apartment building," lawyer Rick Adams said. "Very, very preliminary work had just started."
Adams said the owner, Benjamin Bingaman, of San Jose, Calif., had bought the building, located south of Broadway, as an investment property.
Winnipeg police estimated the loss at $1 million. Adams said he didn't have another figure on the loss.
Adams said Bingaman doesn't have any immediate plans for the property.
"The place just burned down (Monday night) so it's a little hard to say what the plans are less than 24 hours later," Adams said, adding Bingaman has several options.
"They can take the insurance money and pay off whatever debt there is and move on or redevelop," Adams said. "There are discussions to be had with the lender, the owners, the possibility of the marketplace. That's somewhere down the road."
Local developer Andrew Marquess said he had owned the apartment building but sold it to Bingaman, a former business associate, in 2008.
A spokeswoman for the City of Winnipeg said there was an outstanding demolition order on the property after Bingaman had failed to comply with an earlier order to either rehabilitate the structure or demolish it.
The city was prepared to demolish the building, the spokeswoman said, but put that on hold following a last-minute application by Bingaman to redevelop the property.
"Default demolition was being held in abeyance on condition all requirements for a building permit be submitted and active construction work be undertaken upon the issue of a building permit and progress steadily to completion thereafter," the spokeswoman said.
The front portion of the building had been demolished under permit. Work to finalize the demolition had only recently been completed, the spokeswoman said.
The building was last inspected by the city on March 10, the spokeswoman said, and all security and fencing requirements had been put in place as is required by city regulations, according to provisions of the Manitoba Building Code.
The destroyed building, which had stood on Hargrave for 105 years, was gone in barely an hour.
The fire broke out just before 7 p.m. and quickly engulfed the structure.
A Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service release confirmed the building was vacant and there were no injuries.
Police are investigating whether the fire was deliberately set.
Witnesses told police several youth were seen fleeing the area.
The suspects are described as three girls and two boys, all about 14 to 15 years old.