City takes on demolition of Dwayne's Home in downtown Edmonton

Dwayne's Home, located at 102nd Street and 100th Avenue, was a former hostel that was turned into a transitional housing facility in 2013. It's been vacant since 2020.  (Nathan Gross/CBC - image credit)
Dwayne's Home, located at 102nd Street and 100th Avenue, was a former hostel that was turned into a transitional housing facility in 2013. It's been vacant since 2020. (Nathan Gross/CBC - image credit)

Edmonton City Council voted to fund the demolition of Dwayne's Home, a former transitional housing facility in the city's downtown that has been subject to multiple break-ins and fires after being shuttered in 2020.

Ward O-day'min Coun. Anne Stevenson said city council decided to vote in favour of taking on the $4 million to $5 million cost of demolition on April 23, after notices sent to the owner to demolish the building were ignored.

"This building has caused a lot of harm in the community. There have been deaths on-site and it continues to be a major eyesore in the area," Stevenson told CBC's Edmonton AM on Monday.

"Unfortunately, that order hasn't been complied with, so the city is stepping up to take care of it."

LISTEN | City council approves demolishing Dwayne's Home

Dwayne's Home, located on 102nd Street and 100th Avenue, was a hostel that turned into a transitional housing facility in 2013. The building has 68 rooms that could house 130 adult residents.

In 2019, Homeward Trust Edmonton took over the site and temporarily used it as a supportive housing facility for about 128 people.

A man was killed on the property in October 2019.

The building was shuttered in 2020. The building has "significant history" with city safety services, a spokesperson said, including 32 incidents bylaw enforcement officers have responded to since 2021; 20 fires, including two deaths due to the fires; and 79 calls to Edmonton police.

A city report also says that on Oct. 20, 2022, the city issued a decision to demolish the building by Oct. 6, 2023. But the owner ignored the order.

On top of demolition, the city has also taken on the costs of securing the building — up to $180,000 — to avoid fires and break-ins after the owner failed to do so.

The Municipal Government Act allows the city to charge these costs back to the owner on their property taxes. If the owner does not pay them, the city will try to recover the costs by taking ownership of the property and selling it.

ProCura Real Estate Services Ltd., the authorized agent that manages the property, told CBC that it had reached out to the city multiple times with a different proposal but they didn't receive any response to their messages.

"Our CEO, George Schluessel, has consistently advocated for a collaborative approach aimed at fostering the development of low-income housing while ensuring the financial feasibility of such projects," Sherry Schluessel, chief operating officer of ProCura wrote in an email.

"We have communicated our proposals, including suggestions for tax abatements to offset higher costs of financing, and to bring the taxes current."

Schluessel said the city's number of $4 million for demolition was also "alarming" as they had been quoted for a significantly lower cost of $1.4 million.

"We are deeply concerned about the substantial difference, as this is extensive," she wrote.

Stevenson said ProCura did reach out to her about their proposals regarding low-income housing but she felt they weren't "reasonable or feasible."

"The proposals they put forward, I didn't feel, provided appropriate certainty of the work that needed to happen there," she said.

Puneeta McBryan, CEO of the downtown business association, said Dwayne's Home filled an important need in the community, but it's been a nightmare since it closed.

"For everyone who lives or owns a business or works within a one or two block radius of the building," she said.

McBryan said there were talks of multi-unit residential housing being built on that property that never went anywhere, so she is excited at the prospect of reopening that conversation.

"My hope is that there is a developer who's interested …  because ultimately we need more residents downtown, we need more housing units in Edmonton. That's an ideal site for it," she said.

The city does not have a timeline for demolition yet.