Land purchased for new downtown Saskatoon library

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A chunk of land between 24th and 25th Street will be the site of a new downtown library.

A Saskatoon Public Library (SPL) spokesperson confirmed Monday to Global News that it bought land at 321 2nd Ave. N. for roughly $9 million.

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Part of the land purchase is the former site of the Patricia Hotel and the other piece of land includes a strip mall with a liquor store.

“We’ve recently taken possession and so there are some tenants in that space,” said SPL chair Brett Bradshaw.

“[We] basically have given the notice that we won’t be renewing leases going forward.”
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He said the spot was chosen for its central location.

“It was a prime location for a few different reasons: its size and configuration. We wanted something that would have access to all kinds of transportation, that would get lots of natural light, that had a potential to really stimulate economic activity and growth around it,” Bradshaw said.

“Specifically, we don’t have an idea of what it’s going to look like… I guess we’re not anticipating, not necessarily a very fancy building, but something that’s really reflective of a Saskatoon.

“We are planning to have green space indoors and out and the size of the site really lends itself to that. And we just really want it to be a place that people come to for all kinds of things, not just books.”

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Bradshaw noted the COVID-19 pandemic may delay the new branch’s opening date.

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“Given the current state of things, our timeline will be under review. That target date for opening is still somewhere in that year of 2026. But that could be subject to change just given the current [COVID-19] situation,” Bradshaw said.

“Our goal is to have the architect in place by the fall.”

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Ward 10 Coun. Zach Jeffries said Tuesday that the SPL’s purchase is part of a long-term plan.

“I would note that [the purchase is] just becoming public now. But that was actually done quite a ways back before a lot of these recent things have happened here,” he said.
“Just so folks know that they aren’t focused on other things other than their actual service delivery here with the [SPL]. I know they’re doing all they can to provide lots of services during this very difficult time.”
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A report released in September 2019 from SPL said Frances Morrison Central Library (FMCL) has become too small to serve as a central location, and thus a new building was proposed to replace it.

FMCL was designed for 50 employees and to hold under 100,000 items. According to the report, there were 87 employees at the location with over 256,000 items.

— With files from Nathaniel Dove and David Giles