The 122-unit Mackenzie Place highrise in downtown Hay River has been sold to a “large Western Canadian company,” according to an Edmonton-based real estate company.
The building has been uninhabited since a March 15, 2019 fire on the 11th floor led to extensive damage and forced 125 residents to be evacuated.
Bradley Gingrich, senior managing director of investments with Institutional Property Advisors, said in an interview with the Hub that he closed the sale of the downtown building on Jan. 21 between Harry Satdeo, owner of Satdeo Inc., and a company that he wouldn’t name.
Neither would he disclose the price.
“The group that’s coming up there now is more sophisticated and will treat it like the building it deserves and will spend the proper money,” Gingrich said. “The building was the heartbeat of the town and this group is hoping to bring it back to the heartbeat of the town.”
Gingrich, who specializes in selling multifamily apartments in Western Canada, said he facilitated the transaction when Satdeo bought the company in the early 2000s.
According to the Town of Hay River, the assessed value of the apartment building had been reduced from $5.9 million in 2019 to $2.9 million in 2020, largely due to the fire.
Gingrich said the buyer recognizes that there is an immediate need for extensive renovations to the structure.
“They’re going to get at it right away … in the next 30 to 40 days,” he said. “The new purchaser intends to strip it down and rebuild it and that will include new cabinetry, new floors and whole new common areas.”
He predicted that upgrades will “definitely” be completed within a year.
“The beauty of this project is that there are no weather restraints,” he said. “You can work from the inside all winter long. You’re closed in. When the summertime comes you can change up the windows and patio doors.”
Last August, the town attempted to auction the building but was unable to complete a transaction at that time.
Between then and this month, Gingrich said he worked with Satdeo to try to sell the property. Market studies were completed and correspondence was exchanged with the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation, the GNWT and the municipality.
Gingrich noted that he visited the site recently, on more than one occasion.
“We were also able to sneak private jets into town on the weekends, and no one noticed and we were up there a few times,” he said. “After visiting it, my impression is that it’s a beautiful building and there’s lots of potential. It just needs money and it needs a vision…”
In August, the town said that Satdeo owed close to $400,000 in back taxes. Gingrich acknowledged that several outstanding bills were dealt with in the sales process.
Town of Hay River senior administrative officer Glenn Smith stated that the municipality hadn’t officially been made aware of a change in property ownership as of Jan. 28.
He added, however, that a sale of the building would be positive for the community.
“Any sale and acquisition of title to the property would mean that property tax arrears have been dealt with — this would be a good news story for the town and taxpayers in general,” Smith said. “The town would be interested in meeting with any new buyer to understand their plans for the property.”