From owner to tenant: Kensington Legion closes deal on 1918 building sale

The Royal Canadian Legion North Calgary Branch no. 264 building has been sold. (Terri Trembath/CBC News - image credit)
The Royal Canadian Legion North Calgary Branch no. 264 building has been sold. (Terri Trembath/CBC News - image credit)

The Royal Canadian Legion North Calgary Branch no. 264 has officially gone from building owner to second floor tenant.

The Kensington Legion, as it's known locally, closed the sale of the property on Thursday with real estate company Ronmor Holdings Limited.

The decision to sell the building located at 1918 Kensington Road was made in the summer of 2022.

"I think we're fine with the decision that we made," said Fiona McLean, the legion's board chair.

"It sort of mixed feelings I think in having to get to that decision simply because the new legion was the first model of its kind in Canada."

The Kensington Legion moved into the building in 2017 as part of a deal with the Truman Development Corporation in exchange for the land where the old building sat.

Terri Trembath/CBC News
Terri Trembath/CBC News

The new model was put in place to generate three revenue streams for the branch by collecting rent from tenants on two of the four floors as well as operating the 1918 Tap and Table restaurant.

However, once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, revenue dropped and money was owed to creditors and taxes owed to the city started to pile up.

Coun. Terry Wong says the board asked for tax relief before the decision to sell was made. Ultimately, their request was denied.

"There were a number of other organisations that had been suffering during the pandemic period," he said. "We would be opening a floodgate and creating inequity."

In retrospect, McLean says the legion should have leased the restaurant and hired a property manager instead but still believes other legions could follow the model in place.

"You know, maybe they want to sell their land and move into office space type accommodation as well. That might be better than having to deal with raising money for aging infrastructure." McLean said.

She stressed the positive aspect of the sale is — creditors are paid off and the board of directors is starting with a clean slate. She added that they can focus more on the members and veterans using the legion's services.

The new lease is for up to 50 years.