Council hears last pleas, votes to demolish Arlington

Red Deer’s oldest hotel is coming down.

Red Deer’s oldest hotel is coming down.

Despite the pleas of several hundred petitioners seeking to save the Arlington Inn, the City of Red Deer will press on with plans to demolish the 110-year-old Arlington Inn it bought last fall.

The city filed an intent to demolish but had to wait 45 days for a historical evaluation and community feedback. That period ends on Friday.

Tenders to tear down the building have gone out already.

“I don’t think there will be any haste, that the city moves in on the 11th (Saturday) and demolishes the building,” said Mayor Morris Flewwelling.

Flewwelling said he takes pride in old buildings and previously fought to save the Cronquist House 35 years ago.

“In that case, the community was prepared over about 15 years to contribute volunteer labour and work on the project and so on,” said Flewwelling after Monday’s city council meeting.

“In this case, we’ve got a downtown building on an extremely high valued piece of property and not much possibility for use for it.”

Petition organizer Tim Lasiuta presented 375 signatures of people eager to restore the building.

He argued the building has historical merit, such as the original stove built in 1899 and an old freezer with Queen Victoria’s face printed on it.

A city official said those items will be saved.

City resident Derek McNaney urged council to be “very careful” with its decision because Red Deer’s downtown won’t have that historical appeal that can draw visitors.

“How many of these buildings have you got?,” McNaney asked.

Lasiuta vowed to keep on fighting to save the Arlington, saying he is looking for engineering reports of the last few years that say the building is structurally solid. He’s also spoken with some parties who may be interested in buying the Arlington, including a historic hotel chain from Vermont.

Flewwelling replied that it’s unlikely any solid buyers will come forward.

City council passed a motion last fall for the city to buy the building for $1.2 million, with the intent of redeveloping it. As a result, no motion was needed on Monday.

City manager Craig Curtis said the city planning department and the provincial government determined through careful evaluation that the inn wasn’t historically significant enough.

Councillor Cindy Jefferies said the site will help with downtown redevelopment. But she noted the Arlington may have been worthy of saving years ago before its appearance slid so much.

“We failed to protect this a very, very long time ago.”

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