Over the past 17 years, Mainstreet has bought approximately 300 buildings consisting of over 10,000 rental apartments. I inspect most of the rental apartments prior to Mainstreet purchasing them, but there is only one building deeply registered in my mind. The building was built in 1918, nearly 100 years old – that building is named Leamington Mansions located in Edmonton, Alberta, at the corner of 114 Street and Jasper Avenue. With the recent development in downtown Edmonton, this building's red brick exterior and low-rise profile really stands out among all the new modern buildings.
We bought this building in 2006, and when I walked into the building for the first time, I was awestruck. Although the building had been neglected and vacant for some time, the original turn of century character was still evident. Including a skylight channel that stretched from the rooftop to the basement, 100-year old hardwood flooring, red brick interior walls, the claw foot bathtubs, massively wide hallways, elevated ceilings, hand-carved staircase railings – I could go on believe me. It was like this building belonged in a museum.
The whole management team of Mainstreet was so excited and proud to own this building and looked forward to returning it to a form of glory by restoring and renovating it for future dwellers. Over the course of 9 years, Mainstreet spent a lot of time and resources planning out how to renovate and upgrade the condition of the building while respecting its original character. We found a way to keep all the original brick, hardwood, bathtubs, taps and sinks and started upgrading the building and the 24 rental units in the Spring of 2013. The project was expected to be completed by Spring 2016.
I couldn't wait to see the finished product and return it to the people of Edmonton. I could only imagine the thrill and pride that the new tenants would feel moving into this newly restored gem.
Sadly, it was not to be.
Around 6:00 am on the morning of October 17, I received an email breaking the news and my heart. This beautiful character building had been completely destroyed by fire. It's not the financial loss to the Company that upset me, this could be recouped, it was what could not be recouped which disturbed me – Leamington was forever lost, with only images and shared memories remaining. It cannot be rebuilt as it burned entirely to the ground.
I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones to have at least had the opportunity to admire in person such a grand structure from a past era. I'm sure that I will remember every single feature and the true character of this building for the rest of my life.
(Mainstreet does not have any archive images but we do have pictures taken over the course of the restoration process. Enjoy them.)
Mainstreet Equity Corp. is a publicly-traded (TSX: MEQ) residential real estate company in Canada. Mainstreet currently owns and operates properties in Surrey, BC; New Westminster, BC; Abbotsford, BC; Calgary, AB; Cochrane, AB; Lethbridge, AB; Edmonton, AB; Fort Saskatchewan, AB; and Saskatoon, SK.
Mainstreet provides affordable, renovated apartment suites to Canadians, and is committed to creating real value without diluting shareholder interests.