Government of Canada building expected to be sold this year

By Sheldon Spackman
July 30, 2018 - 1:10pm Updated: July 30, 2018 - 3:24pm

The sale of the historic Government of Canada building in downtown Red Deer is anticipated to happen later this year.

That according to Brett Salomons, Partner at Salomons Commercial in Red Deer who says it went on the market several months ago after the federal government deemed the property as surplus.

“CRA (Canada Revenue Agency), who is the current tenant until March 31, 2020, they will be vacating, so I don’t believe the federal government had any other divisions that could occupy the space,” he says. “There’s a historical significance to the property - the building’s brick on the outside and its façade, it’s all protected.”

Salomons says the building, which is now an historical resource, is being marketed as an investment property for possible redevelopment.

“It could be leased to businesses that aspire to be on ‘Main and Main’ or to an owner-user that could utilize maybe a floor or both floors which totals 20,000 square feet and use that space for that purpose,” he speculates.

Currently listed for $4.5 million, Salomons says a large amount of interest has been expressed in the building.

“We’ve sent it out to a number of interested parties,” he explains. “Most of the interest initially came from people who were thinking the CRA was going to retain its occupancy of the building and then continue on past the 2020 date but once people found out that that wasn’t going to be the case, interest subsided.

“There are actually some major groups taking a good look at it for that opportunity to own a piece of real estate at 49th and Ross Street and have that heritage component to it. I think you would be able to leverage that heritage component to it to hopefully attract some tenants and with the leasing of it.”

Boasting great views of Red Deer City Hall Park and its accompanying gardens, Salomons says purchasing the Government of Canada building in downtown Red Deer is a unique opportunity.

“It does come with 23 on-site parking stalls and has been very well maintained by the federal government,” he says. “They’ve abated it of any hazardous materials, so all that’s been dealt with and they’ve kept the building systems up to date. So it’s been a very meticulously well-maintained building and a unique opportunity to own a piece of history and have something that’s right in that downtown core.”

City Historian Michael Dawe says the original structure at the location, which is no longer there, was a court house, land titles building and customs office in 1904 before also serving as a post office following the First World War.

“Although it had several purposes, it wasn’t long before really the building was quite inadequate,” states Dawe. “They were going to build a grand new post office building like the one that’s in Strathcona on Whyte Avenue but the First World War broke out and the government’s priorities shifted, so Red Deer went for a very long time without a proper post office building.”

He says the current building was built in 1950 and in a u-shape around where the original structure once stood on the south side of the property.

“It was built to a very high standard,” says Dawe. “It’s very solid and has lots of architectural features to it but because it was built kitty corner to the old courthouse, there are cells in the basement for the more serious criminals awaiting trial. If you go down in the basement, those cells are still there and one of the things I found fascinating is the graffiti written on the walls.”   

Like the original structure, Dawe says the current building has also served a variety of purposes.

“Post office, customs offices, different government departments such as the CRA,” recalls Dawe. “As they grew and needed more space and as Canada Post shifted away from the traditional post office, the letter sorting depot was established north of 67 Street and the retail outlet south of that.”

Dawe adds it’s interesting to note that an identical building to Red Deer’s original structure torn down in 1950 can still be seen in Fort McLeod.

Up until recently, that building served as Fort McLeod’s Town office but it also is now for sale.

 

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