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City evaluates Co-op demolition

Wheels are in motion to do something about the vacant city-owned Co-op property in Terrace's downtown core.

The city is looking at options to remove hazardous materials and demolish the building on Greig Ave.

Cash flow was freed up after the city was approved a $375,000 government grant for its Davis Ave. road reconstruction project last month, and council has been discussing what projects could be worked on with this extra money.

“That's money that we had earmarked out of our budget for that road construction,” said mayor Dave Pernarowski.

“Now that we have the grant, we have that money available to us to sort of move toward....and that's where the question mark came in -  what do we want to move that money toward?”

Pernarowski said while a tender is going out, no decisions have been made yet.

“Council is still considering it,” he said, saying it'll see if the demolition is an affordable option for the city.

“Of the property that we own in town, certainly that's the most visible, and one that we certainly would like to see some progress on sooner rather than later,” Pernarowski said.

The Co-op property running along the 4600 block of Greig Ave. has been a vocal priority for the city, with many councillors and mayoral candidates voicing their opinions of what to do with the property during last term's municipal elections.

A previous city council purchased the Co-op building and land for $1 million in November 2005, with then-mayor Jack Talstra explaining that buying the property will give the city some control over the area that could be developed for downtown tourism and a commercial retail zone.

Council has been trying to figure out what to do with the property for the last few years, but was never able to work the demolition and asbestos removal expense into the budget. Estimates in 2008 put demolition and asbestos removal at a cost between $300,000 to $400,000.

Its parking lot has been a spot for RV parking, and most recently the building was used as a canvas to showcase community artists in “Graffiti Fest”.

Pernarowski said that having the building torn down would be the next step in getting an investor or developer interested in the property.

“To get the property developed, the next step according to any expert in commercial real estate....is that you need to have a nice clean level piece of property that is available and advertised and can be promoted as a prime downtown piece of real estate,” he said.

Council has looked into the idea of listing the property for sale, as well as subdividing the lot to exclude the gas bar section  to make it more appealing to potential buyers. It also has $61,000 in the budget to undergo Phase II environmental assessment this year.

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