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This article was published 29/1/2020 (474 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Old St. Vital city hall could soon come to market, as the city continues to offload bygone municipal properties.
Winnipeg's planning, property and development department has recommended the riverfront plot of land at 604 St. Mary’s Rd. be declared surplus and sold through a request for proposal process.
According to a report coming Monday to the property and development, heritage and downtown committee, the former municipal office building needs extensive upgrades and system replacements, and would be cost prohibitive for the city to keep in its portfolio.
Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said Winnipeg doesn't have the funds available to bring the building into compliance with codes, or make it a viable rental space for a third party.
"We have estimates that it’s a million bucks to fix up the foundation. So knowing all that, I'm prepared to go forward with declaring it surplus, and, hopefully, we can get something that goes in that has some benefit for the community and isn't just selling it to the highest private bidder," Mayes said Wednesday.
The former St. Vital municipal hall was built in 1959, prior to the incorporation of St. Vital as a city. It's located next door to the historic St. Vital Fire Hall, home to the community’s historical society and museum, and has sat vacant since September 2017. It previously served as an office space for Sunova Financial, Duffy Insurance, and the St. Vital Business Improvement Zone.
Only a portion of the approximately two acres of city-owned property — valued at $2.28 million — is being considered as surplus, according to the report. In total, roughly 28,000 square feet of property, the existing building and parking lot, could be headed to market.
Late last year, the city also put the former St. Boniface city hall and fire hall on the market. The historic building was declared as surplus in 2007, but continued to be leased by the city to three non-profit groups that pay an annual rent of $1.
Buyers interested in the St. Boniface properties have until mid-November to submit their proposal. The deadline was moved after city councillors heard from community groups that needed more time to prepare a submission.
Mayes said he’s hoping the same courtesy will be offered to groups in St. Vital. He’s asked the property committee — which he chairs — to extend the bidding window for old St. Vital city hall to nine months.
"We are going forward with St. Boniface... we're looking at social factors in the weighting of what's proposed," Mayes said. "I'm trying to get equal treatment for St. Vital, so it isn't just, you know, let's sell St. Vital to the highest bidder and St. Boniface will give great weight to community interest."
The City of Winnipeg has been known to prioritize proposals that offer a community service over purchase price, Mayes said, citing the purchase of the former River Heights fire hall by the Rady Jewish Community Centre in 2014.
"We’ll keep the process moving forward," he said. "I don’t want it to sit there vacant for another several years, but I'm just trying to get some community interest as part of the calculation."
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.