TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
The City of Brandon is now accepting development proposals for the former No. 1 Firehall at 637 Princess Ave. The deadline to submit proposals is Aug. 31.
What happens to Brandon’s decommissioned downtown fire station is now under review as developers can submit proposals on what they would do with the heritage building on Princess Avenue.
The City of Brandon is now accepting development proposals for the former Brandon Police Service building at 1340 10th St. The deadline to submit proposals is Aug. 31. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
The city has officially put the old No. 1 Firehall at 637 Princess Ave. and the decommissioned Brandon Police Service station at 1340 10th St. up for sale by issuing requests for proposals yesterday.
Would-be buyers can download the official request for proposals from the purchasing and tenders area of the city’s website.
"I know there is definite interest in the police station property for sure, not so much the (fire hall)," city manager Scott Hildebrand said.
"Once we get proposals in, we’ll pick one and move forward."
The city hired Roland Weir Appraisal Associates to provide a valuation on the old No. 1 Firehall and they came up with a $370,000 for the property as of July 13, 2012. A similar evaluation was done for the now decommissioned Brandon Police Service building on 10th Street and the property was valued at $1.2 million.
Hildebrand said much of the interest expressed for the police station property centres around residential development plans. Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said the police station property was a more straightforward development opportunity, but that there are opportunities to be had with the heritage fire station as well.
"I hope that we can take a broader view on what can be done on that property," Decter Hirst said. "I think there is momentum in the community to preserve that building. One of the two projects is more straightforward, and the other requires an innovative approach that will provide benefits to heritage preservation, economic development and community development."
Within the request for proposal documents for the fire hall property, there is an executive summary outlining how the building would be suitable for a museum, if the annex built on the north end of the building was removed.
The summary notes that much of the original fixtures and interior features are as they were when the building was constructed in 1911. Estimates to upgrading the building, as listed in that executive summary, ranged from just under $2.5 million to just over $3.5 million.
"We just want to see some thing that adds to downtown and fits in downtown," Hildebrand said. "We’ve seen in other communities where a brew pub like that does well in downtowns in other cities. They’ve had a museum in a downtown fire hall in Prince Albert since the 1970s. Maybe that’s what we should have done here 50 years ago because I can’t believe we stayed in that one as long as we did.
"The city is willing to work with someone that’s willing to develop that space."
Renaissance Brandon downtown specialist Braden Pilling said the main priority of the downtown agency is to ensure the heritage building is not torn down.
"I think in terms of future uses, it’s a little limited because of the makeup of the building and what it was before," Pilling said.
"The brew pub idea was kicked around a bit and it’s an interesting and unique use for the property that hasn’t been done before here. That’s a pretty expensive venture, but that would fit what the downtown vision is."
Pilling added he would like the property to help develop an arts and entertainment district in the core of the city, so that it can be part of the revitalization of downtown.
"If it were turned into a bed and breakfast, or something along the lines of arts and entertainment or recreation, those are the things we want to bring downtown. Is housing possible there? It may or may not be. I don’t even know if that would be of interest on the main floor because we’d want to see some kind of commercial use on the main floor."
As there are varying possibilities, Pilling said a request for proposals makes sense for both properties, but especially the fire hall.
"The fact there are possible incentives for developing that heritage building, through Renaissance Brandon, the city or even the province, depending on the proposed use, I think there would be a lot of interest from those entities to partner and help put funding incentives together to make a project happen. I know of a Saskatchewan developer that has done a few brew pubs and they have done a fire hall before. It’s in the realm of possibility."
The deadline to submit proposals for either property is Aug. 31 and the proposals must include a $10,000 deposit.
Once the proposals have been received, they will be evaluated based on the criteria set out in the request for proposals and recommendations will be then sent to city council before Oct. 30.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 10, 2012