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Hay River High-rise removed from tax auction

The Mackenzie Place high-rise apartment building, which has been closed to the public since a fire in March of 2019, did not go up for auction as expected on June 10.
The Mackenzie Place high-rise apartment building has been closed for environmental reasons since a fire in March of 2019. It was included in the town’s annual tax auction until last week. NNSL file photo

The Mackenzie Place high-rise apartment building, which has been closed to the public since a fire in March of 2019, did not go up for auction as expected on June 10.

The day before the Town of Hay River’s tax auction the building was removed from the list of properties up for bids.

The auction involved buildings with delinquent property tax accounts with the town.

“Multiple registrations against the property have been identified of which the town’s legal representative will need to provide appropriate notice of the intent to auction,” stated a June 9 notice from the town. “An auction for the property will be scheduled at a future date to be determined.”

In comments to The Hub, Glenn Smith, the town’s senior administrative officer, explained that legal counsel advised the town some registrants were not contacted and needed to be contacted ahead of proceeding with the auction.

“Unless something changes with the situation with the owner of that property, we will be looking to do another auction as soon as we can,” he said.

Smith said the territorial Property and Taxation Act outlines very specifically what the communication with registrants must look like.

“So our lawyer recognized the gap there and that needs to be addressed,” he said.

The town hopes that an auction for Mackenzie Place would occur before the fall, he added. “But those timelines need to be still determined through consultation with our lawyer.”

Smith said he really doesn’t know if there is any interest in buying the building.

Its minimum price for the tax auction is $1,455,350, which is 50 per cent of its assessed value.

In such a situation, an owner could pay the delinquent property taxes up to 30 days after the auction, if there is a bid to buy a property, and would retain ownership.

Harry Satdeo, the owner of Mackenzie Place, said there are potential buyers.

In fact, he said he has been contacted by about five organizations to talk about the building, although he declined to identify them.

Satdeo has previously said he is hoping that some group would buy the building to help provide accommodations in Hay River, and he still hopes that might happen.

So he was disappointed that the June 10 tax auction didn’t involve his building.

“I wasn’t pleased that it was cancelled, that’s for sure,” he said. “But it’s OK.”

Satdeo does not find it acceptable that an auction for the high-rise might not happen until the fall.

“I would like it to happen sooner so that whoever takes it over would provide some accommodation come winter,” he said, noting time would be required to continue repairs on the structure.

The total delinquent property taxes owed on Mackenzie Place is $162,969.

Tax arrears become delinquent after two years and earn a property its place in the auction.

About another $150,000 in property taxes for 2020 is owed on Mackenzie Place, but that total is not yet considered delinquent.

Following the fire in 2019, an estimated 125 people were displaced from the 16-storey building.

The tax auction on June 10 did proceed with six properties up for bids.

Bids were received on three of the properties.