“The buyers are all interested in the land,” he explains. “They feel that in order to make an offer, the facility needs to be abated and demolished.”
Sitting mostly empty at the corner of 100 Avenue and 96 Street since the new hospital opened in June 2012, the land and building owned by Northern Health has gone through an extensive repurposing process. After a report on its condition was finished, it then had to be considered for use by another provincial government agency, then by the municipality, and then was offered to the private sector.
Hoefer says the main issue in not finding a buyer so far is the materials like asbestos, mercury, and lead lining throughout the structure.
“Obviously nobody’s going to buy the land with those old buildings on it and hazardous materials not knowing how much it will cost to do,” he argues. “Because we’re a public organization, and it was a public facility, we, as the arm of government that owns the facility, have an obligation to do the environmental abatement, return the land back to a usable condition.”
Northern Health is now demolishing the building, and expects to get offers once that’s done. The work is expected to be awarded within three to four weeks, and once the work starts, Hoefer expects to begin negotiating with some of the interested parties.
“Our hope is to have the land sold next year. Obviously the sooner the better, but until the site is free and clear you don’t tend to see the offers,” he says, adding, “We think it’s valuable, and it’s in an excellent spot, so we’re hoping that this process generates some revenue to offset our expenses.”
In addition to environmental concerns, the future owner also has to consider that the land will have to be rezoned as it’s currently classified for a hospital.