Watch above: It’s been a Broadway Avenue landmark for more than a century but the Farnam Block might be taken down. Wendy Winiewski outlines some of the challenges facing the new owners of the property.
SASKATOON – The City of Saskatoon’s municipal heritage advisory committee held a special meeting Monday to meet with the new owners of the Farnam Block. The property has been vacant since Lydia’s Pub closed in 2013.
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Lydia’s Pub closes its doors
Two local chiropractors recently purchased the property and submitted a demolition application to the city in December.
“The demolition permit was just to give us one of the options,” said co-owner Dean Potapinski.
“No decision has been made at this time,” reiterated his business partner Roger Kiva. “We’re basically exploring every avenue that we can.”
The options of complete restoration or a partial demolition/partial restoration still remain on the table.
“One of the components is the economics,” said Potapinski.
“At the end of the day, the numbers have to work. In order to maintain the building, there’s a very big price tag associated with that.”
READ MORE: Iconic Saskatoon building could be demolished
According to the new owners, an engineer’s review points out several structural issues including the roof, the foundation and everything in-between. Floors are flexing and water and sewage lines are near the end of their life.
Restoration incentives are available for old buildings in Saskatoon with heritage significance. The city will pay half the cost of renovations up to $150,000. Restoring the facade alone is expected to cost around $700,000.
“If you had to build new, it also costs. It’s not like it’s free to build new,” said Lenore Swystun, who attended Monday’s meeting representing the Saskatoon Heritage Society.
Swystun was one of several representatives hoping to convince the new owners not to demolish.
City Coun. Charlie Clark was also in attendance along with Sarah Marchildon, the director of the Broadway Business Improvement District (BBID).
Marchildon is excited someone has purchased the vacant property and reassures the public a new building would have to meet Broadway guidelines established in the Broadway 360 plan.
“Rules are in place to insure that if a new building is going to be built within the district that it is going to follow some of the important character pieces of the district,” said Marchildon.
The Broadway 360 plan was derived after the modern Luxe condos were built on Broadway Avenue.
The new owners of the Farnam Block said the property will be a mixture of retail and office space but whether in a new building or a renovation – only time will tell.
The owners hope to move quickly as property taxes on the vacant block are $40,000 a year.