On Wednesday, city council granted a one-year parking permit to Magnetic Capital Group, a private mortgage company based in Markham, Ont.
The lot, located on the corner of Albert Street and Victoria Avenue, will operate as a parking lot for just one year starting on the day of possession.
Magnetic Capital Group says it is working with a developer to eventually build a hotel and other commercial space on the property, but it wants to generate revenue on the property first.
“We want to make sure we have this outlet, the ability to generate some revenue, to carry costs, so we don’t bury the site with unnecessary debt right out the gate and put ourselves in the same position as our predecessors did,” said Chris Nichilo, principal broker and CEO of Magnetic Capital Group.
The sale of the land was always conditional on the City of Regina rezoning the land for parking, temporary or not.
The buyers of the former Capital Pointe lot will take possession on Nov. 15. Once the sale is finalized, the city will receive the $2.7 million it is owed in back taxes.
Read more: Judge confirms sale of Capital Pointe site
If the city didn’t approve the parking permit, the proponents would have dropped their offer, said city manager Chris Holden.
“This would have gone back to the courts and would proceed with a judicial sale,” Holden said. He said it would then take years for the city to collect the back taxes, or regain ownership of the land.
Mayor Michael Fougere and the majority of council supported the parking permit because it would result in much-needed revenue for the city during the coronavirus pandemic. The Downtown Business Improvement District also supports the temporary parking lot, says city administration.
“None of us like the looks of a temporary parking lot,” said Coun. Sharron Bryce. “We’re not thrilled about it, but it wouldn’t extend past a year, and this is our opportunity to get our taxpayers money back from the developer.”
However, Coun. Andrew Stevens was unconvinced the lot would be developed 12 months from now.
“The plan itself is nothing but someone’s imagination. There is no concrete, tangible plan that any of us can access, and verify it will appear on that site after the parking is removed,” Stevens said, who voted against the permit alongside councilors Bob Hawkins and John Findura.
But Nichilio assured council the plans for the lot “is not an idea on a napkin.”
“We’re in business to finance projects like this, and in this case, this is a recovery for us,” Nichilio said. “We have an excellent plan actually, and it’s very mature. It just hasn’t been able to be shared, because we haven’t been able to clear the hurdle of finding out whether or not we can get what we need to protect the integrity of the project amidst the (economic) environment.”
Nichilio says plans for the land will be released “very quickly” once the permit is officially approved.