108-year-old Edmonton building to be demolished after sale fails to attract buyers

Click to play video 'Two old buildings on Jasper Ave demolished' Two old buildings on Jasper Ave demolished
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton history buffs are lamenting what they see as a big loss and a couple of councillors are also weighing in, saying the city made a mistake. Vinesh Pratap reports.

It’s the end of the road for a 108-year-old building on the east end of Jasper Avenue in downtown Edmonton, after City Council executive committee voted to demolish the Mitchell & Reed Auction House, more recently called The Artery.

The fate of two historic buildings in central Edmonton was up for discussion Tuesday at City Hall, after administration failed to find a private sector saviour. Executive committee discussed a report on the Mitchell & Reed and Graphics Arts buildings.

READ MORE: Local musicians fight to save Edmonton buildings from demolition

Both buildings on 95 Street and Jasper Avenue were acquired by the city in March. The land the buildings sit on is set to be used for a construction laydown yard for the Valley Line LRT project, so the buildings have to go.

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No interest in sale

On May 31, the city put both buildings up for sale. The public offering was done in an attempt to elicit creative ideas from the private sector to preserve some or all elements of the buildings.

The city received two offers, but both were deemed unsuitable.

The first offer from the existing tenant was above market price, but was made with the intention of the building remaining as-is with no redevelopment or restoration. The offer included a complex leaseback arrangement in which the City would retain the maintenance, risks, and obligations associated with the Mitchell & Reed Auction House and Graphic Arts buildings for a set number of years. The offer also included $80,000 towards the eventual relocation of the Mitchell & Reed building, but put the onus of moving the building on the city.

The second offer wasn’t received in time, was well below market price, and didn’t align with the city’s goals. The offer didn’t include a plan to preserve the buildings or propose any future redevelopment plan.

Future plans for the buildings

The report discussed Tuesday said because the public offering failed to attract the right proposals and the Mitchell & Reed Auction House is in poor condition, city administration will go ahead with demolition unless directed otherwise. City council voted to stick to that plan.

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As for the Graphic Arts Building, staff will continue efforts to relocate it to a vacant lot in the same neighbourhood. If that doesn’t happen in the next year, the building will be torn down as well.

Right now, the maintenance costs associated with the Mitchell & Reed building total $49,923, or $2,486 per month, and $35,660, or $1,783 per month, for the Graphic Arts building. Both buildings are vacant.

The city estimates the demolition will cost $511,506 for the Mitchell & Reed building and $145,000 for the Graphic Arts building, not including the cost of removing hazards like asbestos, mould, and lead.

All costs are accounted for through the LRT Projects budget.

WATCH BELOW: (Sept. 13, 2015) Two Edmonton buildings are slated for demolition and the arts community says it will be a big loss. As Jessica Kent reports, a petition is circulating to try to stop it from happening.

The Mitchell & Reed building was built in 1908 and is the only one left on Jasper Avenue that is an example of the commercial boomtown development that once lined the south side of the road.

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The Graphic Arts building was built in 1938. Neither has ever been officially designated a historic resource.

-With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News