Manitoba

SkyCity condo buyers to get their money back, as developer says tower is 'not currently viable' as planned

Buyers who put down 10 per cent deposits on Winnipeg's SkyCity Centre condo units will be getting their money back.

Developer of troubled project in Winnipeg says it's going back to the drawing board

SkyCity Centre was supposed to rise on this parking lot at Graham Avenue and Smith Street. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Buyers who put down 10 per cent deposits on condo units in Winnipeg's SkyCity Centre will be getting their money back — and the developer says it is "not currently viable to proceed to build this tower as originally planned."

This comes two days after a proposed class action was filed in Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench, seeking the return of deposits and other unspecified damages. The statement of claim alleges units would not be move-in ready by the October 2019 occupancy date.

The $200-million, 45-storey building was set to become Winnipeg's tallest tower when it was announced in 2013. But construction has been repeatedly delayed.

Lawyer Richard Olschewski represents buyers who are part of the class-action lawsuit.

We have determined it is not currently viable to proceed to build this tower as originally planned.- SkyCity Centre Winnipeg email

"They're going to be relieved that they have their deposit back. Many spent years dreaming of living in SkyCity and that dream is no longer," said Olschewski.

Emails went out Thursday morning notifying purchasers that deposits will be refunded.

SkyCity Centre Winnipeg said the development "received a very enthusiastic response" and 50 per cent of the building's 388 suites had been sold.

"After much due diligence, most notably increases in construction costs, we have determined it is not currently viable to proceed to build this tower as originally planned," said the email.

Peter Paley and his husband put down a $27,000 deposit on a 39th-floor suite. They were excited about the view their northwest-facing unit would offer, especially at sunset. 

But after years of waiting, enthusiasm waned.

"It was such a long road and we were waiting to find out, and it was sort of all up in the air," said Paley. "We're happy to hear we'd be getting our money back."

The developer said it is reworking its plans and intends to market a reimagined project in the future.

Paley says he is not interested. 

"There's no confidence in that development. Absolutely none," said Paley. 

SkyCity's escrow agent, Doug Forbes, confirmed deposits will be returned.

As for the class action, Olschewski said the return of the deposits will likely end the lawsuit unless his clients want to continue with it.

A request for comment from the company behind SkyCity, Fortress Real Developments, was not immediately returned.  

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