Historic Canada Permanent Building still searching for new tenant

Downtown Edmonton’s historical Canada Permanent Building on Sept. 11, 2019. Greg Southam / Postmedia

Edmonton’s historic Canada Permanent Building is still looking for a new lease on life.

The 109-year-old building, across from the Westin Hotel on 100 Street in the city’s downtown core, has sat empty for a few years. Numerous plans have popped up to reuse the 3,200-square-foot space, including a failed attempt to turn it into a strip club and into a market of French retailers who launched a Kickstarter campaign.

Lance Frazier, a commercial real estate agent with Cushman and Wakefield, said on Wednesday the process to find a new tenant is going slowly. He said the building has been gutted and is open for multiple uses.

“I don’t think the landlord is being overly aggressive,” he said. “I guess my job is to expose it to the marketplace (but) I’m not sure what that marketplace is. We’ve shown it a couple of times. Everybody has big appetites but low bank accounts.”

So far this year, Frazier has shown the property three times to potential tenants. He described them all as being in the club and pub industry. He said it will take a lot of money to turn the building into a club or pub, and the landlord is not willing to upfront the costs for that kind of tenant.

He mentioned the owner would offer a quality tenant free rent for a year or two.

Frazier said banks at one point were asking about the property but that interest appears to have waned.

One possible tenant that appears off the table, according to Frazier, is a cannabis retailer. City bylaws require cannabis stores to be 200 metres from libraries as well as public or private education institutions.

Frazier added the owner is also willing to split up the building’s three storeys.

At the end of the day, he believes the biggest hurdle is simply getting the building as much exposure as possible.

“It’s a unique property at a doable deal if we found someone who really wanted it and could make it work,” he said. “Most people don’t know it is there and available. If you know it is there and available and you have the right content — I don’t know what that is — then it’s not that challenging to do a deal.”

The building has had many identities over the years, most notably serving as the original location for the Japanese Village restaurant from 1974 to 2012. In 1995, the building was designated as a provincial historic resource.

jlabine@postmedia.com