ViewPoint: A Tale of Two Cities (and two properties)

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By Peter Chow

On September 14, 2020, Sault Ste Marie City Council bought two lots on Hudson Street where Studio 10 was formerly located for $395,000.

The nightclub, well-known for its strippers, was destroyed by fire in 2019.

With only Ward 5 Councillor. Matthew Scott opposed, City Council agreed to spend almost $400,000 to acquire the property.

It’s widely agreed the property wasn’t worth the $395,000 the city paid.

But Mayor Provenzano and some councillors argued the price was warranted, because the purchase prevents the site from rising from the ashes as a strip club.

The decision to buy the former Studio 10 property which has an MPAC value according to City Solicitor Kathy Fields of $62,000-$69,000 was met with some opposition and various council members questioning the price of $350,000 plus HST for a total of $395,500.

Does the city have any idea what it wants to do with the site?

Apparently not.

“At this time we don’t have specific plans for the property, other than to purchase it and hold onto it long enough to remove the legal long-conforming use attached to the property,” said Malcolm White, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer.

Mayor Christian Provenzano admitted purchasing 89 Hudson Street is more about morals than any particular vision during the Sept. 14 council meeting.

“This wasn’t a piece of property that staff identified and said we have to go out and buy…….  It was an opportunity that came to City Council to buy a piece of property, and remove the zoning on that piece of property, so the next 50 years when you drive over our bridge, the first thing that you see is not a strip bar.”

The vote was taken and the purchase passed 10-1 with only Scott against.

The Toronto-based TVM Group, a property management company, purchased the combined Plummer Hospital and General Hospital sites, nearly 20 acres on the waterfront, for $65,000 in 2013.

The TVM Group then renovated part of the former Plummer site into high-end condominiums.

The remaining waterfront buildings, the entire former General Hospital and the remainder of the former Plummer Hospital have fallen into serious disrepair and TVM had been fighting city-issued compliance orders requiring the remaining properties be properly maintained.

Leisure Meadows Community Living Inc., based in Vaughan, Ont., bought the properties on May 24, 2019 for an undisclosed price from TVM Group and now owns both the former General Hospital site and the former Plummer Hospital renal unit/ER/CCU site.

Someone recently toured the old General Hospital site.

“It’s like being in the apocalypse…”

“It’s pretty easy to get into, we just walked in, we didn’t have to pry anything open or anything…there is a couple of different places you can get in, at least two.  But the one you just walk in, there’s like a two foot wide opening, you go through that, there is a hole through the wall and you’re  in.”

“It’s like being in the apocalypse…..you know, it’s surprising how quick like it’s deteriorating.”

He said the smell is atrocious and said they wore masks the whole time they were in the building.

The inside of the former hospital has been totally trashed with anything of possible value stripped away.

In the once-beautiful chapel, only the massive cross remains.

Residents in the Plummer condominiums watch rats the size of cats running between the two hospital sites.

Many neighbours and citizens have reached out asking for the building to be torn down and the by-laws to be enforced.

People have been inside the General and using drugs.

Other people have told reporters there can be between 5-30 people in there on bad weather nights, often lighting fires inside to keep warm

The Sault Ambulance Service often gets calls from the General Hospital site but paramedics are fearful of going in there because of the nature of the clientele and the needles and filth inside there.

A bigger eyesore than Studio 10 ever was.

A property that was the site of a burnt-down strip joint for $395,000 or a 20 acre waterfront property that was the site of our two hospitals for $65,000?

Sault Ste Marie should have been, could have been, would have been a Traverse City on the St. Mary’s.

What would Traverse City have done?

11 COMMENTS

  1. Funny how everything manages to become a political football… Cons blame everything bad in their lives on the Liberals and the Liberals blame everything on the Conservatives..For me it’s just a case of really stupid decisions of those in power, regardless of political standing… Provinzano has just proved that point with his moral decision to waste OUR money to please his own beliefs…Heck, Carmen probably visited that place more than once…Glad he is done soon…

  2. I used to like our mayor a long time ago… Now it’s clear his actions do not represent the city’s voice, only his own… Time to go Christian.

  3. What can one say except ‘typical for this pitiful mayor and council’ that does everything half-assed.

  4. The issue of abandoned former hospitals (Sudbury also has one and North Bay as well I believe) falls to the province.
    The former Liberal government should have formulated plans for the properties when they were to be closed. Either to convert them to housing or demolish them for future sale.
    They didn’t.
    This situation is entierly the fault of the previous government(the Liberal one).

  5. Provenzano is an idiot if he thinks wasting tax payers money was warranted.
    It would have been cheaper and easier to put in a bylaw that prohibits these kind of establishments from being even a question!
    This city counsel needs to go.

  6. I believe the City didn’t have the right to buy the hospital property originally … private buyers had the first shot at it.
    Now the price is going to be a lot steeper BUT I don’t feel the City should get into the development business.

    …and I am not sure the reporter should be encouraging break and enter or trespassing of a private property.

  7. “Tale of Two Cities” Headline makes no sense at all.

    I guess putting the words “Traverse City” in the last 2 sentences makes it relevant.
    This article seems to have been thrown together in 5 minutes.

    A little more effort at ‘news’ would be appreciated.

  8. Maybe this council should become religious leaders if their main concern is morals and not the economic well being of the city . This mayor is a bigger egomaniac than his idol Trudeau .

  9. Agree completely. I wasn’t sorry to hear that there won’t be another Studio 10, but the old General looks like a rotten tooth and should be dealt with accordingly and soon. If the City has to buy the properties back and demolish the derelict buildings, then so be it. I’d consider it money well spent if a park or a retirement residence replaced what’s there. Anything is better than what’s there.

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