A developer who had been negotiating with government to purchase the former Maplewood Manor property says a government official has told him the Province is no longer considering his offer. Randy Noye believes the Province gave in to Mayor Michael Murphy and a divided town council.
Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
ALBERTON -- Just 24 hours after Alberton Town Council voted to ask the provincial government to have the old Maplewood Manor demolished, Alberton resident Randy Noye received a call from a provincial official informing him government would not be proceeding with his offer to buy the building.
Noye said he had been in discussion with government since May trying to buy the building and reworked his offer about 10 times during the process. He said the call he received Wednesday night from Allan Maynard, Director of Public Works and Planning, ended the process.
“They’ve got an opportunity there, and they’re just going to tear it down,” Noye lamented, expressing disappointment in the town’s position and in the provincial government for walking away from a potential sale.
Noye said he inspected the 46 year-old building and found it to be structurally sound although tired and in need of work. He said he had planned to do $50,000 to $60,000 worth of work this fall to fix up the outside of the building and get it to the point where he could show it to potential tenants. Roof replacement was in his longer-term planning. Overall improvements, he said, would have cost over $200,000.
There was a provision in the agreement whereby the property would revert back to government, and he would lose whatever money he put into renovations, if it wasn’t developed in short order, he said.
He did not disclose the proposed purchase price but indicated it was largely related to transfer fees.
Having him purchase and develop the building, he argues, would have spared government demolition costs. Recent estimates put that cost in the $125,000 range, but Noye believes it will cost more than that, maybe even $250,000 to $300,000.
It’s money government could have applied to helping low income families, he suggested
He was critical of some town council members for getting caught up with the possibility the building would be used for storage. He said only the basement area of the C wing was being proposed for storage and it would be heated storage.
“The outcome here is, more than likely, the building is coming down, but how it got there is the part that’s bothering me,” Noye said. He’s critical of Mayor Michael Murphy for writing letters to government in August without his council’s knowledge, asking that the building be demolished, and for holding a special meeting on Tuesday on the manor issue. At Tuesday’s meeting, following a description of the manor property by Maynard, a motion was passed to rescind one from the previous week which was to advise government of council’s interest in having the property developed. In its place was a motion calling for the building to be demolished as soon as possible.
“He’s sent out letters to government, which he wasn’t allowed to do and then when he got caught he got dipsy-doodling around,” Noye said in reference to Tuesday’s special meeting. The meeting was called to present new information but Noye doesn’t think it was so much about new information as it was about reversing the previous week’s motion.
“I’ve told (Maynard Wednesday) night I am not satisfied with the outcome here and I’m not satisfied because of one guy. He didn’t like the decision last week from council so he turns around and holds it up and calls another meeting.”
He commended councilors Blair Duggan and Natasha Dunn for not giving out his name as the developer when pressed during Tuesday’s meeting, as he was still in an arrangement where neither he nor the Province could discuss the deal. He suspects the Mayor had at least some idea he was the proposed developer because he said he saw the mayor out front this summer one Sunday when he was inspecting the manor building.
Noye admitted he was buying the building largely on spec, hoping to fill it with various tenants. Some of it could be converted into office space, he said, and he was also considering turning some of the building into apartments for Holland College students. He added the kitchen is still in condition to be operated as a restaurant.
He acknowledges he would have had to approach council about rezoning the property commercial and was willing to take the risk that that would be approved.
Noye said he was also planning on investing $300,000 to $350,000 to install a state-of-the-art carwash in the former manor’s staff parking area. He said he might still put up the carwash but it won’t be in Alberton.
With the manor property and the carwash, Noye estimates the town stood to gain $7,000 to $10,000 a year through property tax.