Daycares compete for vacated firehall on Grosvenor

A fire hall in the middle of a land swap controversy in Winnipeg could become a daycare, with two proposals being considered by the city.
The City of Winnipeg is considering two similar, competing bids, to purchase the Grosvenor Avenue fire hall and develop it into a daycare space. (Sean Kavanagh/CBC)

A fire hall in the middle of a land swap controversy in Winnipeg could become a daycare, with two proposals being considered by the city.

The hall at 1710 Grosvenor Ave. was vacated when a new fire station opened on Taylor Avenue in 2012.

Initially, it was part of a controversial land swap deal that would have seen the city hand it over, along with a surplus station on Berry Street and a parcel of land on Mulvey Avenue, to property development company Shindico.

In exchange, the city would receive land on Taylor Avenue, where the new hall was built.

The deal was made by then-fire chief Reid Douglas and Shindico, without council's knowledge. When council learned about it, the land swap was nixed in November 2012.

Now the city is trying to sell off the old fire halls and negotiate a price to buy the Taylor land, where the new fire hall has already been built.

The fire halls were listed for sale in August 2013 and the city received five offers.

The one administrators have recommended is an offer of $429,000 from a numbered company, whose director is Ryan Skrabyk. The plan calls for the redevelopment of the fire hall into a private, for-profit daycare with 60-62 spaces.

But as the property and development committee was meeting Tuesday to consider the recommendation from administration, officials with the Rady Jewish Community Centre — which also made one of the five original bids — asked the committee to reconsider their offer.

Gail Waxman from the Rady, located on Doncaster Street a few blocks from the Grosvenor site, said the fire hall is perfect for their vision of a not-for-profit, subsidized public daycare with 48 spaces.

She told the committee the group recently toured the outside of the property with provincial officials, who told them the footprint would not allow for more than 48 spots.

Waxman also said Rady has been approved for $325,000 in provincial funding and expects to add more of its own cash to the purchase and redevelopment.

"That little tiny postage stamp there, we can just see it turning into a lovely daycare. It's got some nice walking paths; we just think it's a perfect spot," she said.

The information seemed to take committee members by surprise, prompting them to go behind doors for a brief discussion.

They emerged to say Waxman's and Skrabyk's offers are so similar in cash value and re-use of the land that they need to have further discussions before making any decisions.

They plan to meet with Skrabyk next week in light of the competing offer and get his feedback.

Other property offers OK'd

An offer of $257,000 for the Berry Street property, made by the Mellon Medical Corporation, was approved by the committee on Tuesday.

A report to the committee says Mellon Medical intends to develop the century old fire hall into a single or multi-family residence.

Meanwhile, a $1 -million offer for the Mulvey land, made by Timberland Properties, was also approved.

The company proposes to build a 12-story, 68-unit apartment building on the land.