The city of Thunder Bay is asking for expressions of interest from people or businesses wanting to take over the historic Royal Edward Arms in 2015.

The May Street building, constructed in 1929, is currently being used as social housing, but the lease with the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board expires in July 2015.

'Most important is to get more people living in our downtown cores.' - Business owner J.P. Fraser 

The city may lease or sell the building outright, or it may consider a partnership structure. Thunder Bay's Realty Services department says zoning rules allow for both residential and business use.

Downtown business owner J.P. Fraser says he would like to see the building converted into condominiums or a mix of market-price and rent-geared-to-income housing, rather than office space.

Fraser, who owns the Lake Superior Art Gallery in Victoriaville Mall, says if people live in the area, they will go to local restaurants and shop on Saturdays β€” something he says doesn't happen enough now.

"Most important is to get more people living in our downtown cores,” he said. β€œIt turns our area into a very vibrant area."

Manager of Realty Services Joel Depeuter says whatever the building ends up being used for, the city hopes to see reinvestment in the Royal Edward Arms.

The deadline for submissions for expressions of interest is Nov. 25.