Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Isaacs Harbour building saved from demolition

Antigonish developer buys former medical centre

  • January 10 2024
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

ISAACS HARBOUR — A 100-year-old building recently scheduled for demolition in Isaacs Harbour has a new lease on life thanks to Water and View Estates Development of Antigonish, which bought the property from the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) last week for $21,000.

“Council decided to rescind its earlier motion [at the Jan. 3 committee of the whole] to demolish the building,” Chief Administrative Officer Barry Carroll told The Journal in an interview. “Obviously, it was going to cost between $20,000 and $30,000 to dispose of, so this was a better financial decision.”

According to Water and View Estates’ bid, Carroll said, the company – which has a 20-year track record of buying and developing properties in the districts of St. Mary’s and Guysborough – intends to turn the formerly doomed former medical centre into residential housing or a “mix of office and residential space.”

In an interview last week, Water and View Estates’ CEO Steffen Mangold said the final shape of the development will depend on “the proceedings of the [Signal] gold mining project and also the wind [projects] ... that is, whether we are going to have mixed use for business, which means office space, or just residential units if none of the projects proceed.”

He added: “I’ve talked to representatives at Signal Gold just to hear what their take is ... I don’t want to say anything about [exactly] what I talked to them about, but we are starting the planning process now and [plan] to go in there in March or April with one of the options.”

After nearly a year of looking for ways to keep the building open, MODG council voted in early December to tear it down. Originally built as a school – and now with repair needs – the municipally owned structure failed to attract even a single proposal to a sealed auction in November. Prior to that, the MODG attempted to solicit interest from community groups that might be interested in taking over the building from its former tenants – the defunct medical centre’s board of directors – for as little as $1.

According to Carroll last week, “When the story in The Journal came out [in December],” about tearing down the building, “we had five people or groups come forward, unsolicited, to see if they could still have the opportunity of buying [the building]. We [staff] said we’d bring it all to council in due course, and that happened last week.”

After reviewing the bids, he said, “The vote was unanimous,” adding: “You always like to repurpose a building if you can.”