Former Arlington owner wants building

Earl Heltay wants to put in an offer for the Arlington Inn, but he isn’t having much luck getting a hold of city officials.

Earl Heltay wants to put in an offer for the Arlington Inn, but he isn’t having much luck getting a hold of city officials.

Heltay said he has been phoning on and off for weeks, but no one has gotten back to him.

Heltay now owns the York Hotel in Grande Prairie, but he once owned the Arlington Inn in downtown Red Deer.

“In any other place in Canada historic buildings are preserved. In Alberta, we rip them down and make a parking structure or something,” Heltay said.

He would like to buy the property and see it operated as a hotel, maybe even finding people interested in its historic significance to put money into it to restore it to its past glory.

Heltay said the building has more historic significance than any building in Central Alberta, with the men who built the structure using handsaws and hammers, forging their own nails and cutting their own lumber.

He said in the past when he owned the building, pipefitter students from Red Deer College toured the site to see the old plumbing in the basement.

He also sees a practical purpose for the building offering lodging to people who don’t have a lot of money.

“It’s an absolute tragedy what the city wants to do,” Heltay said.

But Howard Thompson, land and economic development manager for the City of Red Deer, said he hasn’t received calls about people wanting to buy the building, although there has been some interest from those who would like to buy the property once the building is demolished.

Thompson said if someone did phone, he would speak to them.

“I think city council is fairly clear in their direction moving forward in this,” Thompson said.

He said since August, the city has had the intention to purchase the building and demolish it.

He said the city sees it as a development opportunity, as part of the revitalization for the downtown.

The city has received a petition to reconsider demolishing the building, but so far plans for the Arlington Inn to get the wrecker’s ball haven’t changed.

A permit was submitted to demolish the building earlier, which means the soonest it could be demolished would be today.

But Thompson said because it’s a statutory holiday, no permits for demolition would be issued until next week.

He expects the soonest the building will be demolished will be in two to four weeks.

The cost of the purchase of the building and demolition costs have been budgeted at $1.5 million, Thompson said.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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