Brooke-Alvinston is looking for a buyer for a 18-unit apartment complex.
The building on Lorne Street is up for sale for the cost of unpaid taxes – $288,000.
The three buildings were full of tenants less than a decade ago, but Mayor Don McGugan says when a new owner took over, the problems began.
Now, there are three units occupied. The other units have a litany of problems including black mould, trashed apartments and water leaks. The landlord, McGugan says, will not make the necessary repairs. One of the buildings has been closed under building code violations.
The owner also hasn’t paid taxes for over four years. That’s allowed the municipality go to court to seize it and now is offering it for tax sale.
It’s not the first time Brooke-Alvinston has taken this step. The municipality has about eight buildings in its care awaiting sale.
Rick Holland, the townships administrator, says some have been up for sale for some time but he says tax sales do work. Just a few years ago, a butcher purchased one of the tax sale buildings and last weekend, an interested person toured one of the downtown buildings which the town has control of.
Holland is “pretty sure this one will generate a lot of interest.”
McGugan agrees. “If it is bought for the right price, they can update it…at a reasonable cost.”
He’s not downplaying how much work it will take. “It will take significant dollars.”
And McGugan knows Brooke-Alvinston may be holding onto the buildings for some time. “But the municipality will not be putting that kind of money into the apartments.”
If a private entrepreneur isn’t willing to take the project on, McGugan believes it would make a good public housing unit. The mayor has already talked to officials at the county who expressed some interest in the idea.
But he admits the municipality will likely lose money on it – aside from the unpaid taxes and water bills, the township has spent about $20,000 in legal fees to straighten the mess out.