The Mitchell and Reed Auction house, which was the former home of the Artery will be torn down. And the property next door on Jasper ave, the Graphic Arts Building could go as well, although there is an attempt to move that building to another location. And many on city council say it shouldn’t have come to this.
“It wasn’t even being purchased for a major development on that site. It was purchased for a temporary lay-down yard (for the Valley Line LRT) and now my fear is that it sits vacant for years as a further reminder and insult to the fact that there were people in this community that loved those two buildings, and arts organizations were making good use of them,” said Coun. Scott McKeen.
The buildings aren’t even close to meeting code, which is one thing when a private owner has the title. But it’s a completely other thing when the city owns it said Mayor Don Iveson. “We are often held to a higher standard and we are an attractive target for litigation so it doesn’t make sense for us to get into the rickety building management business and so that’s not the right solution to this.”
“I think we have to partner with NGOs, philanthropists, and with land owners.” he said of future hopes to get more authority from the province to protect heritage buildings.
Coun. Ben Henderson said it was an ill advised rush to have the city take ownership of those two properties, which meant evicting the arts groups. “I think we could have quite happily had those groups in there for a number of years until such time something actually did happen,” he told reporters.
“Our work in the quarters, to continue to move it forward and continue to attract the kind of development we always wanted to attract, having those groups in there was always an advantage. It seems to me we’ve ended up in a situation that’s kind of lose, lose here because went in very clumsily, and there were all sorts of unintended consequences that are really unfortunate, and I hope we’ve learned our lesson for the future.”
The city is still in talks looking at the potential of moving the Graphic Arts Building to another nearby location. It’s even investigating salvaging the facade of the Auction House for relocation at Fort Edmonton Park.
The city plans on selling the two parcels of land once the LRT is built and the staging area is no longer needed. It feels it can get a better price by having both properties as one parcel of land atop the river bank.