Historic Masonic temple hits the market as property taxes soar
CALGARY – The Freemasons' Hall in the city’s Beltline is up for sale, a move the organization says was prompted by significant jumps in property taxes in recent years.
The Freemasons say skyrocketing property taxes forced them to give up the space in the 300 block of 12th Ave. S.W. that originally opened in 1928. The group is looking to the city to ease the tax burden.
The Freemasons say property taxes were:
- $93,622.12 in 2015
- $112,816.96 in 2016
- $128,939.25 in 2017
In 2018, the taxes were $139,934.00, but they received a one-time rebate that year of $30,674.75.
The 17,000 square-foot building has two adjacent parking lots, for a total surface area covering close to half an acre. It's been listed for sale at $7.8 million, but the current City of Calgary assessment for the property is $8.5 million.
"We all know this is because of city council," says Chad Kretz, chair of the Calgary Masonic Temple. "The need for these big grandiose projects are sinking the city into debt and an organization that makes good men better is the one that’s taking the hit here."
The building is listed for sale by CBRE. The company’s senior vice president John Fisher says several potential buyers have expressed interest in the site and some in saving the historic building, but admits demolition is the most likely outcome .
"It is a historic building and, in many ways, it would be a shame to see it go, but in the meantime it is a very valuable piece of land for a higher density development,” says Fisher. "So really likely you could see a high rise developer come in there and tear down the building and build something taller upon it."
The Masonic Lodge is listed in the city's inventory of historic buildings but is not a designated historic resource. That means the building could be demolished by its new owners if they want to rebuild on the site.
"It's a significant building for its design, for its use, and it would be sad to see it go," said Josh Traptow, executive director of the Calgary Heritage Authority. "We tried to figure out ways to get them to preserve their building but sometimes it just comes to the end of the day where property taxes are too high and there’s probably not a lot of other revenue-generating sources for that building."
For many who met at the building for years like Kretz, the thought of putting it up for sale is tough to take and the pending demolition even more difficult.
"It’ll break my heart, and it’ll probably be a thousand men out front crying as this building goes down. Most of us won't watch it’ll hurt too much."