The 122-unit Mackenzie Place skyscraper in downtown Hay River has been sold to a “big Western Canadian corporation,” according to an Edmonton-based real estate company.

The building has been uninhabited since a fire on March 15, 2019 on the 11th floor caused extensive damage and forced the evacuation of 125 residents.

Bradley Gingrich, senior managing director of investments at Institutional Property Advisors, said in an interview with the Hub that he closed the sale of the downtown building on January 21 between Harry Satdeo, owner of Satdeo Inc., and a company he wouldn’t name.

He would also not disclose the price.

“The group that’s coming in there now is more sophisticated and will treat it like the building it deserves and spend the appropriate money,” Gingrich said. “The building was the heart of the city and this group hopes to bring it back to the heart of the city.”

Gingrich, who specializes in the sale of multi-family apartments in Western Canada, said he facilitated the transaction when Satdeo bought the business in the early 2000s.

According to the City of Hay River, the apartment building’s assessed value had been reduced from $5.9 million in 2019 to $2.9 million in 2020, largely due to the fire.

Gingrich said the buyer recognizes that there is an immediate need for major structural renovations.

“They’re going to get right into it…within the next 30 to 40 days,” he said. “The new buyer intends to tear it down and rebuild it, which will include new cabinetry, new floors and new common areas.”

He predicted that the upgrades will be “definitely” completed within a year.

“The beauty of this project is that there are no weather constraints,” he said. “You can work indoors all winter. You are locked up. When summer comes, you can change windows and patio doors.

Last August, the city attempted to auction the building, but was unable to complete a transaction at that time.

Between then and this month, Gingrich said he worked with Satdeo to try to sell the property. Market studies have been completed and correspondence has been exchanged with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the GNWT and the municipality.

Gingrich noted that he visited the site recently, on more than one occasion.

“We were also able to get private jets into town on the weekends, and nobody noticed and we went there a couple of times,” he said. “After visiting it, I have the impression that it is a beautiful building and that there is a lot of potential. He just needs the money and he needs a vision…”

In August, the city said Satdeo owed nearly $400,000 in back taxes. Gingrich acknowledged that several unpaid invoices were processed in the sale process.

The Town of Hay River’s chief administrative officer, Glenn Smith, said the municipality had not been officially notified of a change in ownership as of Jan. 28.

However, he added that a sale of the building would be positive for the community.

“Any sale and acquisition of title deed would mean property tax arrears have been cleared – that would be good news for the city and taxpayers in general,” Smith said. “The city would be interested in meeting with any new buyers to understand their plans for the property.”

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