Questions arise over old fire hall put up for lease
A Winnipeg property developer put an unused fire hall up up for lease this summer, but a city official says a deal to transfer the property over has not yet been completed.
Fire Station No. 12 at 1710 Grosvenor Ave. has been empty for several weeks now, as the firefighters who were based there moved to a new station on Taylor Avenue earlier this summer.
But Shindico Realty Inc. listed the vacant fire hall on its website early this week, billing it as "a unique loft-style office location with park setting."
"High ceilings in engine bay will create a dynamic and interesting environment for occupants in the former 'Firehall #12' station," stated Shindico's feature sheet, which included photos of the building inside and out.
The feature sheet directed leasing inquiries to Shindico president Sandy Shindleman.
On Wednesday, city officials told CBC News the land has not yet been declared surplus — meaning it's still city property — so Shindico's lease listing was premature.
River Heights Coun. John Orlikow, who represents the area, said council has not had a chance to discuss or vote on whether to declare the property as surplus.
"Shocked, yeah. More than surprised. It's a shock," Orlikow said Wednesday. "Council hasn't been made aware of this. Community hasn't had a chance to participate."
Land swap negotiated
But Barry Thorgrimson, the city's director of property, planning and development, said on Thursday that the fire department had negotiated a "land swap" with Shindico.
Thorgrimson said that part of the deal was approved by city hall two years ago.
"So the property was declared surplus and we are in a position to transfer titles over," he said.
"Right now Shindico should not have posted this property; they are being a bit aggressive," he added. "We've asked them to pull that back until we can complete our due diligence and do the formal land transfer, as instructed by council."
Thorgrimson said Shindico is trading some land it owned on Taylor Avenue — where the new fire station sits — in exchange for three abandoned fire halls on Berry Street, Mulvey Avenue and Grosvenor Avenue.
A final price tag for the exchange has not yet been reached, and it would still have to be approved by council, he added.
Thorgrimson acknowledged that the deal is not how property arrangements are traditionally made.
"This is a property matter that went through a different standing committee, with a different department. So I'm kind of left out of this whole process as well," he said.
Listing no longer on website
In an email sent to CBC News late Wednesday, Shindleman said, "We don't comment on property matters."
The fire hall listing was no longer on Shindico's website as of Wednesday.
The former fire hall sits on land next to the Sir John Franklin Community Club, which is now part of the Corydon Community Centre.
Club official Jim Carson said he would like to get back that land, which had been sold to the city for $1 in 1955.
"I would have thought that the community centre would have been given at least the opportunity to take a look at that piece of property," Carson said, adding that the community centre would like to buy back the land for $1.
Orlikow said he just wants to know what's going on at city hall.
"Under a public process, why would you give one developer rights over another developer, or a community group?" he said.
"And why would we even start that process if we haven't even declared it surplus yet? So again, why, why, why?"
With files from the CBC's Sean Kavanagh