February 24, 2018

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Owner wants to pull down 'murder mansion'

The notorious Winnipeg rooming house dubbed "murder mansion" may soon be on death row.

The owner of the 22-unit building, located at the intersection of Balmoral Street and Cumberland Avenue, is in the process of applying to the city for a demolition permit and hopes to sell the property, which has been infamous for drug dealing and death in the last decade.

"Doesn't everybody want it bulldozed?" asked Jeff Shwaluk, who purchased the building, along with his father, Ron, in 2011.

The building has been abandoned since a fire in December forced the handful of remaining tenants out. Recently, Shwaluk retained a demolition company by tender and a security fence has been erected around the property.

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The notorious Winnipeg rooming house dubbed "murder mansion" may soon be on death row.

The owner of the 22-unit building, located at the intersection of Balmoral Street and Cumberland Avenue, is in the process of applying to the city for a demolition permit and hopes to sell the property, which has been infamous for drug dealing and death in the last decade.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Firefighters were called to a rooming house in the 600 block of Balmoral Street near Notre Dame Avenue Dec. 4. A man was hurt, and other tenants evacuated safely.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Firefighters were called to a rooming house in the 600 block of Balmoral Street near Notre Dame Avenue Dec. 4. A man was hurt, and other tenants evacuated safely.

"Doesn't everybody want it bulldozed?" asked Jeff Shwaluk, who purchased the building, along with his father, Ron, in 2011.

The building has been abandoned since a fire in December forced the handful of remaining tenants out. Recently, Shwaluk retained a demolition company by tender and a security fence has been erected around the property.

Shwaluk has been negotiating to sell the land to owners who last year purchased a neighbouring property, with intentions to redevelop the parcel. His asking price is $500,000 (with demolition) and around $400,000 as is. No sale has been finalized.

Without a demolition permit, Shwaluk said he will be forced to board up the building and leave it standing. The cost to renovate the property to allow tenants to return would be around $500,000, he said.

The title "murder mansion" stuck following a number of deaths and violent crimes during the last 10 years.

Shwaluk purchased the rooming house in 2011 "during the middle of a drug war" in the area, noting that, "There were two shotgun blasts through the front door three days before I got the keys (to the building)."

Shwaluk, who was in his early 20s when he bought the building, said he wanted to "make the neighbourhood a better place."

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The rooming house in the 600 block of Balmoral Street became unfit for habitation after a Dec. 4 fire.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES The rooming house in the 600 block of Balmoral Street became unfit for habitation after a Dec. 4 fire.

After two "rough years," Shwaluk said he continued to replace outgoing tenants with "the cream of the crop," turning the building into one with a "nice family vibe."

"The last five years were awesome," he said.

Still, on Feb. 26, 2013, Ron McKinnon was found dead in his suite in the rooming house. An autopsy revealed he died from an overdose. No one was charged in his death.

Eric Fleury, the owner of Wreck It Demolition, said when he was putting up company banners and security fencing announcing the possible demolition, several neighbours expressed relief.

"Usually people aren't happy to see us," Fleury said. "Not in this case. We're all aware of the disgusting nature of the building. They were grateful that the building was going to be gone. They (the neighbours) said the whole vibe of the area will change."

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FRESSIt appears as though the rooming house known as "Murder Mansion" is going to be demolished, Sunday, February 11, 2018.</p>

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FRESSIt appears as though the rooming house known as "Murder Mansion" is going to be demolished, Sunday, February 11, 2018.

Shwaluk is uncertain how long it might take for the city to deal with his application for demolition, which has yet to be submitted.

Shwaluk said he replaced the flooring in all but two units, installed new windows, painted the walls several times and installed security cameras. He installed a new furnace and water tank. But he said in the last year, a local gang bullied the residents. He suspected gang members had begun to sell drugs out of one of the units. Several tenants were robbed, he said.

"They (gang members) started terrorizing everyone," Shwaluk noted.

Now Shwaluk said the best option for the area is to have the building razed and the property redeveloped as commercial or residential. He believes his asking price of $400,000 to $500,000 is reasonable.

"If you look at the building, it's not much, but it's a prime location," he said

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @randyturner15

Read more by Randy Turner.

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History

Updated on Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 6:22 PM CST: Makes correction on on cause of Mackinnon's death

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