At long last the Mackenzie Place highrise apartment tower is scheduled to be sold at auction.

Owner Harry Satdeo hopes an Indigenous organization will purchase the tower, which has stood empty since a fire in an 11th-floor unit in March 2019.

The building at 3 Capital Drive is on the list for a tax arrears auction set for Aug. 12.

Senior administrative officer Glenn Smith said at the June 29 regular council meeting that the date had been rescheduled from one in June due to “procedural issues.”

“We have proceeded with a registration of a public auction for tax arrears,” Smith said during the meeting. “Council’s decision was to move forward with another auction again in August so that is on Aug. 12. I think at this point there’s three other properties on that list.”

Smith said that town council under the Northwest Territories Property Tax Act has the option to hold an auction for a building or property that is in tax arrears and can decide what is minimal amount it can be purchased for.

The minimum selling price for the building is close to $1.5 million – 50 per cent less than the assessed value after the fire.

The figure is also less than the debts that Satdeo says are on the property.

Satdeo said in an interview last week that there is about $1.6 million of debt owing on the building, part of which includes two years of property taxes owing, he said.

“If a native group comes through and takes over the debts, this is $1.6 million,” he said. “They would pay those debts and then have the highrise.

“I will sign it over to them.”

About 125 people were displaced by the fire. Satdeo said the building, which has 122 units, was 80 per cent occupied before the fire.

“I hope somebody buys it and opens it and then we can have more housing for the North,” he said.

Satdeo said that he estimates that if an interested party would take on the debts, that another $50,000 investment in initial upkeep could allow for the building to reopen.

“Then they would have to improve the building gradually,” he said.

Satdeo said he believes that for parties interested in purchasing the building, there is funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMPHC) which should provide assistance.

However some say it is not so simple because any effort to attain money from the federal government agency would be based on whether an application is successful.

Peter Redvers, CEO with the Katl’odeeche First Nation said there are uncertainties.

“He gets a massive tax write-off and whoever owns it holds liability for all required renovation and upgrades, which costs are unknown,” he said. “The federal funds are proposal-driven and not guaranteed.”

Leonard Catling, media spokesperson for CMHC would not say whether they have been approached to acquire money to go toward the purchase of the building.

“Most National Housing Strategy (NHS) funding programs are application-based,” he explained. “CMHC administers the (housing strategy) and begins the review and prioritization process of the applications once they have been submitted by the applicant and deemed complete enough to proceed with prioritization.

“To protect the confidentiality of our partners, information regarding applications, potential applications, or potential projects cannot be released publicly until we have a signed agreement with the proponent.”

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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