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City takes on repairing fire-ravaged building in downtown Red Deer

A building was knocked down on 48th Street in downtown Red Deer this weekend — but not the derelict property that sustained serious fire damage in 2021.
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A building was demolished, right next to the fire-ravaged property on 48th Street. The City of Red Deer plans to get the exterior repairs done and add this cost the the property owner's taxes. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

A building was demolished on 48th Street in downtown Red Deer — but not the derelict property that sustained fire damage in 2021.

It's the two-storey structure right next to the burned-out building that was turned into a pile of rubble on the weekend. That structure had a purple awning and  jutted out more on the sidewalk than the buildings next to it. It had housed an alternative health clinic at 4907-48th Street.

The fire damaged building at 4909-48th St. is still standing — and still sporting the charred awning that the owner was ordered to remove last summer by the City of Red Deer.

Inspections and licensing manager Erin Stuart said the two properties have different owners.

While the owner of the now demolished building applied for a demolition permit from the city, no reason was given for why the building was being brought down, said Stuart.

As far as she knows, the owner of the burned-out property has no plans to improve the outside appearance — and that is a problem.

Last July, the city reacted to squatters living in the burned-out property by boarding up the charred building that once housed Casa Pergola restaurant, offices and and retail shops. The property's owner was ordered to fix up the fire-damaged exterior.

Under the city’s Community Standards Bylaw, exteriors of damaged or derelict structures must be restored within a “reasonable amount of time.” Set timelines are not in the bylaw because different circumstances require some leeway, Stuart explained.

The City of Red Deer gave this property owner a six-month deadline to make the repairs. The city ordered the tattered awning to be removed, the exterior to be re-stuccoed and the missing windows and doors to be re-installed. But nothing was done, despite extensive talks with the owner, said Stuart.

The City of Red Deer is, therefore, stepping in to ensure these exterior repairs are done. The expense will be recouped by adding the cost to to the owner's property taxes, she added.

Stuart could not say who the property owner is because of privacy considerations in the Municipal Government Act.

She hopes the exterior renovations can be completed before winter.

Stuart previously stated it’s rare for the city to have to issue an order to get restoration work done on the outside of a building — especially where the damage is this extensive.

A fire partially destroyed the building on Oct. 10, 2021. La Casa Pergola Restaurant was located in what appears to be the less damaged eastern section of the Empire Building, which also contained a law office and unoccupied retail and office space. But there was extensive fire and water damage to the entire structure. It took close to 30 firefighters with two ladder trucks, and three fire engines to put out the blaze.

 



Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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