The City of Prince Albert accepted a $900,000 offer, GST included, from Cumberland Crossing to purchase the former Quality Inn in downtown Prince Albert.
The offer was one of seven on the table. Cumberland Crossing will also receive the adjacent parking lot along with the building.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the deal at Tuesday’s executive committee meeting. City administration will officially sign off by Friday, Sept. 18.
City Manager Jim Toye said they’re hoping to get the sale done as quickly as possible, which is why the item wasn’t brought forward at an executive committee meeting before Tuesday’s vote.
“Time was of the essence,” Toye told council on Tuesday. “The 18th was a few days ahead of the 21st, when they want to get going. They brought people in from all over Western Canada—professional people in certain areas—for some of the different services they want to offer in there.”
Cumberland Crossing’s $900,000 proposal was well ahead of the second place bid from Christopherson Industrial, which came in at $500,000. The City also received bids of $400,000, $150,000, $100,000, and $75,000, as well as a $1.1-million bid that was conditional on a three-year lease with an option to buy, and a $100,000 down payment.
Toye said the last bid was rejected because there was no guarantee the company would purchase the property after the three-year lease expired.
The City took possession of the 1.63 acre property on July 15 and submitted a request for tenders one day later. There were $816,357.89 in unpaid taxes on the property at the time. The City has had to spend an additional $70,786.56 on repairs, cleaning bills, power, energy and security since then. Toye wrote that the City will lose just over $30,000 on the sale.
Cumberland Crossing plans to turn the former hotel into affordable housing for students attending Prince Albert’s downtown post-secondary institutions, like the Gabriel Dumont Institute, the First Nations University of Canada campus, and the incoming University of Saskatchewan campus.
A project plan submitted to council shows the company wants to convert roughly 40 per cent of the building’s 93 rooms into affordable housing. The plan also provides space for a subsidized daycare service, a public restaurant, three to five meeting rooms with capacity for anywhere from 12 to 100 people, a ballroom with capacity for more than 200 guests, a community kitchen, and a medical taxi to transport guests to and from medical facilities. Cumberland Crossing plans to ban alcohol from the facility, and install 24-hour security.
Mayor Greg Dionne said he has no doubt Cumberland Crossing has the resources to complete the proposal as planned, but they’ll still keep a close eye on the project.
“It’s a big plus for us, but we will be monitoring the program to make sure that they build what they have committed to,” Dionne said during an interview on Thursday. “It’s a grey area because of zoning, but we made it clear to every bidder: this is what we want.”
The building sits at 67 13th Street East, which is located inside Ward 2. Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp, who represents the area, said it’s a welcome development her constituents are glad to see.
“I’ve been hearing lots of positive feedback from members of our community with the plan in place,” she said during Tuesday’s meeting. “(There’s) some positivity for this building.”
Toye echoed those sentiments in his report, which was included in Monday’s agenda package. He called the proposal an “exciting endeavour” that would “revitalize the downtown core and provide the facility with a fresh new look.”
Updated with comments from Mayor Greg Dionne on Thursday, Sept. 10.