It was made public last week the City of Saskatoon has purchased one of the last properties held by the now-mothballed Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) in Saskatoon.
The timing is especially interesting as the city recently commissioned a report regarding the feasibility of a downtown arena.
Could this be part of a bigger plan?
The city has uses for the buildings which are assembled in this STC transaction.
Located in the industrial area immediately north of downtown, the property includes a 19,415 square foot storage facility, a 49,063 square foot maintenance building and approximately 6.39 acres of industrially zoned dirt.
The best news is the city was able to grind down the agreed-upon sale price of $5.14 million to $4.88 million, given deficiencies identified during their due diligence. That does seem to imply the city has an immediate purpose in mind for the property.
The city has publicly stated it was already leasing space in the buildings from STC and will move employees in from other buildings which will no longer be available to it.
Resurrecting old dreams in Saskatoon
Frank Long, the city’s land bank manager, did hint the property could serve as a catalyst to seeing the North Downtown Master Plan come to fruition. The plan was originally presented to City Council in May 2014.
This ambitious plan’s full implementation would result in 31 acres of new residential land use, 40 acres of mixed-use land, 11 acres of green space, and two acres of public utilities.
That would bring about 4,300 dwellings in total, with a potential population of 7,650.
I don’t want to turn my nose up at the plan, in theory. I like the idea of densifying downtown further as this seems to be the stepping stone to growth in large urban centres.
But … and there is always a “but”, right?
The cost to do this, as estimated in 2014, was in the $58-million range after some realized revenue from selling newly zoned land to private developers. I’m not sure anyone is ready to stroke that cheque.
Perhaps we just put it on the wish list with that arena and rapid transit plan for now, I guess!