After three years of sitting empty, the Baccarat Casino in downtown Edmonton could soon be demolished.
The Katz Group has applied for a permit to tear down the aging building, which is right next to Rogers Place on the corner of 101 Street and 104 Avenue.
Those who walk by the Baccarat say it’s about time for the demolition.
“I think it’s awful. It’s quite a blight,” said John Ross, who works downtown. “I think getting it out of the way is a good thing.”
But Ross said he is concerned about what might replace the Baccarat.
“It really does depend on what ends up being left behind, because we don’t need another empty parking lot.”
Tim Shipton speaks for the Katz Group. He says the long-term plan for the land includes building residential towers, but that would not happen immediately.
In the short term, the company is still trying to figure out what will occupy the land in the heart of Ice District.
“It is early days,” Shipton said. “We’re just in the early planning.”
Councillor Scott McKeen said the building is “in the running” for downtown Edmonton’s ugliest building and that he will be happy to see it go.
McKeen said he expects an application for a surface parking lot and that concerns him.
“If the Ice District partnership brings forward a proposal for surface parking, I think the question has to be, ‘What are the benefits to the broad community?'”
McKeen said he is “not a fan” of surface parking lots downtown. At night, they are dark and make people feel unsafe.
He said “they don’t add anything” and administration has opposed other proposals.
“I think administration has been denying permits,” McKeen said. “So why would we treat this any differently?”
Despite his reservations, McKeen said he is open to hearing proposals. If the landowner wants a parking lot and promises to build towers within a certain timeframe, he may be more willing to support the short-term plan.
Shipton said construction will happen and that the long-term plans haven’t changed.
The city said the demolition permit is still under review. If it is approved, the applicant must still apply for a building permit before the casino can be torn down.
So far, no development permit application has been filed with the city with a request to build anything on the land.