Homeward Trust pitches housing project on Fort Road

City councillors on executive committee want to move forward with the offer from Homeward Trust to purchase land at Station Pointe. They've also voted to tear down the rickety Mitchell and Reed auction house, most recently the home of the Artery music venue.

Mitchell and Reed Auction House, recently home to the music venue The Artery, to be torn down

The Artery had to shut its doors after the city deemed the building structurally unsound. (ArteryEdmonton, Instagram)

Homeward Trust Edmonton is pitching a supportive- and affordable-housing development on Fort Road, near the Belvedere LRT station. 

The non-profit, which has a mandate to address homelessness in the city, has made a $2-million offer on 2.42 acres of the Station Pointe land.

Council's executive committee gave staff the go-ahead Tuesday to negotiate the sale.

Homeward Trust is proposing to build 42 supportive-housing units for people who require medical care and 20 affordable-housing units, said Susan McGee, the organization's CEO.

She said it's been difficult to plan without owning the property. 

"This is the really important first step," McGee said. 

City councillors expressed interest in being more involved as the plan moves forward. 

Coun. Ed Gibbons, who represents the ward, said he only learned about the proposed project last week. 

"There's not a developer who wants to build in Ward 4 that does not talk to me first," Gibbons said. 

He said he's sure Homeward Trust will do a good job and is not worried about the development, since there are a number of social housing developments in northeast Edmonton.

The city has paused social housing development in certain areas of the city — particularly downtown — because the projects have become so concentrated. 

McGee said she's not worried about such concentration in the area of Fort Road that Homeward Trust is eyeing. 

"There are a couple of buildings, but it hasn't been identified as an area that should be part of any pause," she said.

Artery building coming down

The former Mitchell and Reed Auction House — most recently home to the music venue The Artery — is coming down. 

Council's executive committee voted to demolish the historic building at 95th Street and Jasper Avenue.

The city bought the land where the building sits, alongside the Graphic Arts Building — (the future of which remains unclear, though it could be relocated) — with the intention of turning it into a yard for the Valley Line LRT. 

Since that yard won't be located there after all, the city explored selling the buildings, and even got some offers. For now, it has decided to keep the properties on the books. 

Coun. Scott McKeen, who does not sit on executive committee and therefore did not have a vote, said he was frustrated. 

"It was a mistake and I'm annoyed by it," McKeen said. "Long-term, maybe the Mitchell Reed Auction House — The Artery — would not have been saved anyway. It was in pretty tough shape. I hope as a corporation, administration has learned a lesson from this." 

McKeen said there was a lack of consultation when the site was purchased for the LRT yard, which angered heritage advocates.

Staff estimate it will cost $511,506 to tear down the auction house. Maintaining it costs $2,486 each month.