Lyceum Theatre gets no bids in tax sale
Thunder Bay to consider other options for historic, but derelict building
There were no suitors in the Wednesday tax sale of Thunder Bay's former Lyceum Theatre, located in the city’s north core.
The lack of bidders was disappointing to Coun. Larry Hebert, who sits on the city's heritage advisory committee.
“We want to see this move along, and get repaired and … fixed up as soon as possible, so there's no more damage done internally,” he said, "and also to see there's a vibrant building down there because it's got a great facade.”
The minimum bid on the property for the tax sale was $114,974.54, which is the balance of the taxes owing on the property
Hebert said he understands why prospective bidders were reluctant, considering the fact the building needs a lot of work.
Hebert originally predicted there would be significant interest in the Lyceum property.
“Given that there's a lot of work to be done inside, that may not be as much of a surprise as I was originally thinking it would be,” he said. “But it still is a great building and I think has got some opportunities.”
Hebert speculated that people are waiting on making any bid until plans for a downtown events centre are firmed up.
“I think that will spur more interest because then I can see all kinds of opportunities being made in that building if the events centre is going down there,” Hebert said.
The manager of the revenue division for the city, Rob Colquhoun, said there's a two-year window to take action when a property doesn't sell. Thunder Bay can put it up for another tax sale, take title to the property — and either hold it, or sell it on the open market — or, the city can wait for the two-year period to lapse, leaving the building in the owner's name, writing off the taxes.
Colquhoun said that, although the city has two years to make a decision, "historically it never has taken that long."
"This tax sale was a little bit different, where there was only one property being advertised,” he said.
“The city holds an annual tax sale each June and, in June of each year, there's usually a dozen or more properties. Historically, approximately half sell and half don’t."
City council will have to decide how to proceed, after administration makes a recommendation.
Colquhoun said it's too early to say what administration will recommend to council, as they don't start looking at the options until after a property doesn't sell.