Photo: This photo, submitted by the Royal BC Museum shows the Fort Hotel in the 1930’s – File Photo.
The City is finally picking up the pieces of a problematic piece of property in Fort St. John.
For a couple of years now, the City had been in negotiations with owner Michael Seo. In April 2008, the City declared the piece of land as a ‘nuisance property’, and had ordered Seo to submit a demolition plan.
The building on the corner of 100th Street and 100th Avenue was becoming an eyesore, and presented health and safety hazards.
After months of delays, Seo submitted a multi-phase plan to demolish unsalvageable chunks of the Fort Hotel building, while keeping some sections standing.
Over the course of a few months, the Fort Hotel slowly began tumbling down, one section at a time.
This April, city councilors voted that the City didn’t want the eyesore at the downtown intersection anymore, and that the entire building would have to be demolished. If Seo wouldn’t do it, the City would demolish it and forward the costs back to him.
There were even more delays in locating Seo, who often travels for business.
Five months ago, a fire that was deemed accidental in nature, burned down what remained of the Fort Hotel.
Seo had been delinquent in paying his taxes, so on Monday, September 28th, the downtown property went up for tax sale, and the City purchased it for $72,000.
Now, City Manager Dianne Hunter says the City wants to have a contractor in place to finally clean up the property in the next couple of weeks.
Once a bid is made, it should take a couple of weeks to finish the cleanup.
However, according to the conditions of sale, Seo still has one year to pay the delinquent taxes plus interest. So, the City can’t develop the property until this time next year.
Hunter says the City wants the debris cleared before winter. However, she’s not sure at this point what the City has planned for the property.