Group hopes food seller and other stores replace departing Riversdale Liquor Store

An effort by the province's Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) to find a new private operator for the outlet appears to have failed.

Gov't-run liquor and gaming authority had tried to find a private operator

The Riversdale Liquor Store at the corner of Avenue D and 20th Street West will close later this year, says the realtor tasked with finding a new tenant. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News)

The Riversdale Liquor Store on 20th Street will close its doors later this year, according to the realtor tasked with finding a new tenant for the building.

The news comes despite an effort by the province's Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), which owns the store, to find a new private operator for the outlet.

"For Lease" signs appeared on the building last week.

"For Lease" signs appeared on the building last week. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News)

"We have been told that, as of Dec. 1, [SLGA] would be ceasing operations there, at which time that building would become vacant," said Michael Bratvold, the vice-president and managing director for CBRE.

"So we're out now in the market looking for a new tenant for the owner of that building."

The Saskatchewan government announced in 2015 its plan to convert dozens of SLGA stores into private stores, including the Riversdale location at the corner of 20th Street West and Avenue D.

But no such private operators have emerged, said Bratvold.

"We are looking at some groups that we know are in the market and looking to open a privatized liquor store, but at this juncture I don't think that's likely," he said.

The SLGA could not be reached for comment Sunday.

A sign at the liquor store's front door. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News)

The Riversdale Liquor Store has had a guard manning the store, and currently has a sign posted to its front door asking customers to remove their hoods and sunglasses. 

It also has the strange distinction of being the only SLGA outlet in Saskatoon without a cooler, according to Randy Pshebylo, the executive director of the Riversdale Business Improvement District.

Randy Pshebylo, executive director of the Riversdale Business Improvement District. (Riversdale Business Improvement District)

"My email trails go back four and five years ago to try and get that type of elevation of service," said Pshebylo. "We've worked with the police to try and ... reduce the amount of high-alcohol, high-volume, single-serve-type products that were causing some of the problems for some of the people frequenting the store."

The coming SLGA closure does not surprise Pshebylo. He said the business improvement district is "receptive to [the] closure and working hard to try and attract some kind of food-type service."

Pshebylo envisions some type of food seller with evening hours, perhaps even a cafe, under a long-term (five-to-10-year) lease.

"We're seeing those types of niche food stores in downtowns across North America," he said. 

Asked what challenges a realtor faces in finding a tenant for the building, Bratvold of CBRE replied, "Riversdale, like any other neighbourhood, is going through some transition. We all know that Riverdale's had some issues in the past but Riversdale is a thriving, busy little community. 

"You've got people in there now who've got some expectations in terms of services and amenities... Owners of the real estate in that neighbourhood have to make sure they're serving those people that are there."

The building housing the liquor store is owned by a group in Calgary and SLGA leases the space, he added.