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'There have been deaths on that property': City plans to demolish former Dwayne's Home building

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The city could be on the hook for the bill to demolish a problem building in the heart of Edmonton.

The building in question is the former site of Dwayne's Home transitional housing facility at 100 Avenue and 102 Street.

Dwayne's Home closed in 2020, and the building, a former hotel, has been vacant since then.

The city issued an order to the owner of the property to demolish the building on Aug. 22, 2022, citing issues with break-ins and fires at the property that were using emergency resources.

From January to September 2022, firefighters responded to 19 fires at the property, and after a fire on Sept. 15, 2022, fire officials told CTV News Edmonton there was evidence people had been sleeping in the building.

The Edmonton Fire Rescue Services Community Property Safety Team declared the building a significant safety risk to the public.

A spokesperson for the company that owned the building said at the time said the building would be demolished once a permit was approved.

Firefighters attacked a blaze at Edmonton's former Dwayne's Home on Sept. 14, 2022, from the inside and outside, using a ladder truck set up on 101 Street behind the building.

"We have a demolition permit, which we are just awaiting approval on, which we hope will happen in the next week or so," Sherry Schluessel of Procura Real Estate told CTV News Edmonton on Sept. 15, 2022.

On Oct. 20, 2022, the city ordered the property owner to demolish the building by Oct. 6, 2023.

Nearly seven months after the deadline, the building is still standing.

"The concerns on that site are significant, there have been deaths on that property due to unsafe conditions. It has a huge negative impact on all the surrounding community," Ward O-day'min Coun. Anne Stevenson said Monday.

"Every property owner faces different pressures and challenges. I don't think that this condition has existed through any deliberate maliciousness, but regardless of the reasons, the outcome is the same."

Stevenson says the city is now looking at demolishing the building and adding the costs to the property's tax roll. 

If the owner doesn't pay the bill, the city will sell the land to recoup its expenses.

It has the authority to do so under the Municipal Government Act.

"The city has taken every possible step, provided every possible opportunity, and is now moving ahead to do the right thing, which is removing this risk from our community," Stevenson said.

"If demolition cost as much as we think it might possibly cost and we sold the land for sort of the lowest minimum amount, this would recoup that difference to make sure that we're whole as a city," she said, adding there's also a possibility that the land may sell for more or less than expected.

Council set aside $2.7 million in the city's reserve during budget talks to cover a potential loss.

Stevenson says the city can't go after the property owners under its derelict properties tax subclass because the building isn't zoned as a residential property.

Ongoing security costs

In addition to the potential cost of tearing down the building, the city says it has been paying for security there for the last eight months.

The building's owner was ordered to fence off the building and maintain security on the property when the demolition order was issued, something the property owner did not appeal.

The city says the property owner maintained security at the building for several months after the order, but an inspection in September 2023 found there was no security on site and the fence had been breached.

The former Dwayne's Home building at 100 Avenue and 102 Street in Edmonton on April 29, 2024. (Jeremy Thompson/CTV News Edmonton)

"Shortly after making these observations, the city was informed the owner would no longer provide security on the property," a city document says.

"Given the ongoing safety concerns, the city hired security to watch the property and repaired the fence."

The property was owned by Procura Real Estate in 2022.

City documents from 2024 lists Sedona Keys Developments Ltd. as the owner.

CTV News Edmonton has not been able to confirm how or if the two companies are related.

In a series of emails to CTV News Edmonton on Tuesday and Wednesday, Schluessel claimed Procura is the authorized management company for the property, and is working to broker a deal for an affordable housing project.

She did not provide a clear explanation for why the building has not been demolished.

"We've put forth proposals, including a five-year tax abatement to offset financing costs, and most recently even offered to bring taxes up to date. However, despite our persistent efforts, communication from the city's end has been sparse," she wrote.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson and Alex Antoneshyn 

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