The plot thickens with the future of Range Street as the historical building that housed the Fat Fox was demolished over the weekend.
Brad Good, co-owner of the property, announced plans for the tear-down of the 465 square-metre building one week ago and says he hopes to have a new building at the location within 18 months.
“Our plan was to tear it down when the tenancy with the Fat Fox terminated (last spring),” said Good. “We knew there might be hazardous material like lead paint and asbestos and who knows what else with a building like that. The original plan was to work with the Fat Fox as long as we could and when it came time we were going to tear the building down.”
Good says he is hoping to work closely with the city and the community on the future of the location. He would like to either see a three-storey building with commercial space on the bottom floor and apartments upstairs, or a three-storey building with a food court, tourist gift shop, and bed and breakfast on the first, second and third floors, respectively.
“We would like to hear from the people of the area what they would like to see there,” Good says. “We understand that the Gold Range is there and is part of downtown where the average citizen might not go. We would like to change that space. ”
Good commended Fat Fox for drawing people to the area and was open to having them involved as well, if their relationship could be improved.
“It was a positive note the fact that Fat Fox was changing the face of that street,” Good says. “We would like to continue on with that. ”
Philip Jefferies, Jeremy Flatt and Emma Atkinson opened the popular Fat Fox coffee shop in June 2016, as tenants of Good and Huang.
In May 2018, the coffee shop had to vacate because there was a leaky roof and it couldn’t be repaired, but Good says there had been an understanding that the lease would be short and the building would be demolished within five years.
He also says the relationship between the two wasn’t working out as planned, in part because the Fat Fox proprietors did some improvements to the building, such as painting the upper half of the structure a bright green, when there had been plans for demolition in about a year’s time.
Fat Fox owners Atkinson and Flatt are travelling in Europe – in part to find inspiration in reviving the coffee shop.
“Although structural issues with the building were not disclosed when we signed the lease agreement, they became apparent afterwards and the possibility of demolition was discussed with us shortly after we opened,” she told Yellowknifer. “As a result of the uncertainty and maintenance issues we terminated our agreement with the landlords earlier this year.”
Following the Fat Fox departure, assessment of the building was done in June in preparation for demolition by an Edmonton-based company. It was determined there was hazardous material including asbestos and lead paint.
Good says based on the report, hazardous abatement would cost $180,000 – three times the cost of tearing down the building.
City historian Ryan Silke says the city has lost another historical landmark.
“It was the original commercial strip of 1950s Yellowknife, but has pretty much lost that role and appearance,” he says. “I am very curious to see what replaces it.”
The demolition follows the razing of other buildings along the historical strip.
In 2012, the City of Yellowknife purchased the three lots on 50 Street which are being temporarily occupied by the Ecology North pop-up park. The municipality spent $975,000 on the properties, which included two buildings – a Corner Mart and Instaloans – as well as a parking lot. A fuel spill on one of the lots shortly after the purchase led to the city spending $52,000 to clean it up. Another $200,000 was soon spent on demolition of the buildings, leaving the three lots open.
To date, those three properties where the park sits, remain for sale as a packaged deal, with an asking price of $1.3 million, according to the City of Yellowknife website.
Good said he had considered purchasing the former Smart Bee Convenience Store property next to the Gold Range.
“We thought about purchasing that, but the problem is that the owners believe there is value in the building and there is not,” he says. “That was the same issue that we had.”
That property is listed with Coldwell Banker at $340,000 – a lower figure than its original price of $459,000 with Century 21 in 2014.