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This article was published 31/5/2018 (539 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The developer of Winnipeg’s beleaguered SkyCity Centre has announced it will be sending out refunds to buyers who put down deposits of 10 per cent on condo units, admitting it isn’t feasible to move forward with construction.
The news comes two days after a class-action lawsuit was filed against Fortress Real Developments, the company behind the project at Smith Street and Graham Avenue, in Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of disgruntled buyers seeking the return of their deposits and other unspecified damages.
Richard Olschewski, the lawyer representing buyers involved in the lawsuit, said it’s clear Fortress’s decision was in response to legal pressure.
"I really believe that if we didn’t file the lawsuit, it would have just been more of the same, more delay. I think they would have held out in the hopes they could pull a rabbit out of their hat. But this is what (my clients wanted). This is an obvious solution," he said.
Olschewski said all buyers were notified by email Thursday morning that their deposits would be returned. He was informed by his clients a short time later.
The proposed development was marketed as a "beacon of change" for the city when it was first announced in 2013. Had things gone forward as planned, the $200-million, 45-storey tower would have become Winnipeg’s tallest at the time.
Developers said the mixed-use development, called a "vertical village," would set the standard in "luxury living and urban lifestyle." However, it has been plagued by problems from the start, with construction consistently delayed.
Olschewski said he expects buyers to be fully refunded within a week or two, adding it wasn’t just his clients involved in the lawsuit that will be getting refunds, but all buyers. He said there will be no reason to move forward with the lawsuit once the deposits are returned.
"Without a doubt, without a doubt this had to do with the lawsuit. Just look at the timing. I can’t imagine they would have been doing this without the lawsuit. But now that the buyers will be getting what they wanted, I can’t imagine there would be able reason to move forward on this," Olschewski said.
Fortress, which is headquartered in Richmond Hill, Ont., did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.
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Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.