Turning the Tide closing, proprietor fears demolition of historic Saskatoon buildings

An independent Saskatoon bookstore is closing after being served with an eviction notice. Now, the owner fears the demolition of historic buildings will follow.

​Turning the tide has been located in a small, old house at 525 11th Street East, just off Broadway Avenue, for the last 11 years. The shop, which sells books about social justice and environmental sustainability, was given until January 31 to vacate, store owner Peter Garden said.

He said his building and the Farnam Block, the former home to Lydia’s Pub, were sold earlier this month.

The City of Saskatoon has confirmed that it received an application for demolition for both properties. It will review the application and then make a decision.

“We’re hoping that it’s not demolition,” said Garden. “In my view, these are iconic buildings in the neighborhood.”

Garden said he will miss being in the building.

“A quarter of my life has been spent in this bookstore and I’ve become quite attached to it,” he said. “It’s sort of become my second home.”

The home is one of the oldest in the city and is an important cultural landmark, he said.

However, it’s not the end of the bookstore. He will be looking for a new location.

What next?

According to Gaby Akl, a realtor with Enzo Group, the properties have been bought by a group of Saskatoon professionals.

Akl said the group still isn’t clear what its plans for the building are.

Structural engineers and architects are busy assessing the aging Farnam Block building, which has been vacant for the past year and a half. The building is known to have major structural problems.

The realtor said the group is interested in the heritage nature of the property, but still don’t know what the finished version will look like.

“It’s like a balancing act,” said Akl. “We all know the history behind this building and the importance of it. At the same time, there’s also economics that come into play.”

It’s still not clear what the land will be used for. However, Akl doubts it will be a condo development.

“It’s very vague at this stage, but the residential component of it is probably a third option,” he said.

Akl said he wants the new development to fit in with its surroundings.

“We all understand the importance of that street, and the retail component of it, and we would like to preserve the shopping experience people have come to expect when they come to Broadway.

Charlie Clark, the area’s city councillor, hopes the building can be saved.

“The Farnam block is certainly a historic building on Broadway, perhaps one of the most signature buildings,” he said. “So, obviously, well loved and a place that has contained many community events and stories and experiences.”

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