Hotel becomes housing

Operators of Potter’s Hands have reached an agreement to purchase the Rancher’s Valley Inn in downtown Red Deer.

A cyclist rides past the recently sold Ranchers Valley Inn.

Operators of Potter’s Hands have reached an agreement to purchase the Rancher’s Valley Inn in downtown Red Deer.

Stan Schalk and Peter Leyen, partners in Potter’s Hands Developments Ltd., will take possession of the downtown hotel on June 1, assuming all conditions are met on the sales agreement.

Conditions remaining on the sales contract are technical in nature, including a building inspection, Schalk said on Thursday.

The Valley is the last of four hotels that once operated at the quadrant formed by Gaetz Avenue between 49th and Ross Streets, said Schalk.

The Windsor Hotel burned down a number of years ago while the City of Red Deer recently purchased the Arlington and shut it down with the intent of having it demolished and redeveloping the lot.

Potter’s Hands previously purchased and renovated the Buffalo Hotel, turning its rooms into affordable suites for people who would otherwise be living on the streets.

“The Buffalo is a ‘housing first’ project.” There are 40 people living here who would not have a place to live if they were not living there, said Schalk.

The Valley will continue to provide affordable housing, but will take a different direction than the Buffalo, he said, adding that he can only give a glimpse for now of what he and Leyen plan to do with the building.

The 26 or so people living on the hotel’s second floor will be able to stay, said Schalk. The restaurant will remain open, but he will close the bar and the liquor store and unplug the VLTs.

Those plans that he can reveal include a complete renovation with significant upgrades to the hotel’s appearance.

“We’re hoping that what is going to happen is that this will improve this part of downtown, and we’d like to see that housing maintained and maybe even more than that,” said Schalk. Plans include creating suites for people who work downtown and would like to live there as well.

“We want to work with the city to try to make this building what it should be for the corner that it’s on. It’s on a great corner.”

The decision to purchase the Valley came quite unexpectedly, said Schalk.

“Basically, I wasn’t interested in buying the Valley. For me, it just really felt like God was opening a door and it was a door that I needed to pay better attention to. It was an opportunity that fits in with the ministry.”

Potter’s Hands has been developing affordable housing for the past 10 years. The Valley will be an addition to the community of people served by the ministry and its the corps of staff and volunteers, said Schalk.

Potter’s Hands has never had any interest in purchasing and redeveloping the Arlington, he said.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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