What's all the Hub, bub?

By Geoff Lee

June 30, 2016 12:00 AM

Don Stang, director of community services for the City of Lloydminster, presented a business case for the purchase and repurposing of the former Synergy Credit Union building for $7 million.

Lloydminster City Council has voted unanimously to approve the $4.7 million purchase of the former Synergy Credit Union building and three parking lots.
The project was pitched to council Monday by Don Stang, director of community services to revitalize the downtown and create a hub for community services with a central outdoor square.
“It not only solves the library’s needs, but also revitalization and homes for our community services partners,” said Stang.
“It’s an opportunity.”
The community hub would house services such as the Lloydminster Public Library, the Lloydminster Economic Development Corp., the Lloydminster Bobcats and the MS Society among many others.
Part of the exterior grounds would be converted into a central square as a public space for small and large events.
Council recently became aware of the sale of the building that could be re-purposed in four phases at a cost of approximately $20 million including renovations, tenant fits ups and the central square.
Grants, sponsorships and a third party investor are among the funding possibilities noted in the business case for the project.
“It would be prudent to purchase the building,” said Councillor Larry Sauer.
“There are many more opportunities by purchasing it at this time.”
The building is located 4901 50th Street.
Sauer noted if the funding is not available, the city would always sell the asset if it needed to recover the costs.
“If we wait too much longer, things turn around, the price could go up and it may not be available, so we thought this was the opportune time for that,” he said.
Opportunity was also on the mind of Coun. Linnea Goodhand who strongly favoured the purchase.
“There are some concerns about where we come up with the money, but I think it would have been a really big missed opportunity if we hadn’t tried to put this together,” she said.
“I think if I could fast forward 10 years and see what that project looks like and what it’s spawned for more development and more unique development opportunities downtown, it’s going to be fabulous.”
The business case said the community hub embodies the new vision for a bold new landscape for the city and provides opportunity for civic leadership targeted to enhance the quality of life.
Coun. Jason Whiting who is on the board of Destination Downtown Streetscapes sees the purchase as way to strengthen the downtown business sector.
“We need some kickstart in the downtown core; this is a great opportunity to support the downtown,” said Whiting.
Coun. Goodhand said purchasing the building is a show of faith that the city supports the downtown.
“It is a way we can say to them ‘listen if we do this, you can take it to the next level in your own businesses,’ ” she said.
Coun. Baker expressed concerns about the costs as well as city priorities with the need for a new waste water treatment plant and a traffic couplet for 50th and 49th Ave. heading the budget list.
“With the amount of borrowing we already have and amount of obligations we have, how are we going to afford the city centre hub building?” he asked.
“Over three years we’re talking $20 million—I just don’t know how we’re going to finance it.”
He said when you add in Highway 17 upgrades and other projects, council is having trouble setting priorities.
“I am trying to understand what is first on the bucket list—I don’t know what it is anymore,” he said.

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