LETHBRIDGE - It's 9 a.m. and the banging sounds heard at Galt Manor on 7 Street S., are not those of addicts or squatters pounding on the doors trying to get into the apartments like they were a few months ago.
They're the sounds of two men who are now gutting the building.
Old furnishings coming apart at the seams, bits of flooring, doors, baseboard heaters and other types of junk are being tossed out of a gaping second floor window into a large collection bin below.
Inside, it's a far cry from what it used to look like. The doors to the suites are now open, the piles of needles, human waste and food containers - gone.
Anyone who goes in, can now see glimpses of what it must have looked like before it was destroyed by severe neglect and abuse. Many of the floors could be sanded down and saved, the beautiful glass door knobs will be kept, as well as some of the architechtural features like arched doorways and the tiny fireplaces.
The building has apparently been sold, I’m told, to three real estate agents who want to give the building new life.
The man who tells me this doesn't want his name used. He says he has extensive experience helping to restore buildings in Lethbridge, although most he says, are not nearly as bad as Galt Manor.
He says it's been sprayed for bedbugs, twice. More than 1,200 needles were found in one suite alone downstairs, and he's now working on clearing out an apartment where a couple lived for 20 years, rarely if ever bothering to clean it. The garbage in that suite was piled up to the windows; a single dirty trail along the hardwood floors, the only way to move in and out.
The cleanup began in early February, and he believes it will take some time before it's ready for anyone to live in again.
"We'll take it as it goes...all new windows and doors. New bathrooms, new kitchens. You know, other things may come up. It took us a good solid four or five days to clean out, just to get to the furniture, electronics and all that outta here."
The two wore hazmat suits, because they weren't sure what they'd find.
"It's going to take at least a month, once we order. We have to clean all of the stuff out first. I've been doing this all my life."
Previous owner Doug Cutler bought the building about eight years ago as a retirement investment. In mid 2017, he told LNN the building began going down hill quickly after he rented some suites to some questionable tenants.
"I'm not sure what happened here. All of a sudden, I had the odd tenant, that wasn't good. I had some from all over and it got to a point where the gangs just started to arrive, and arrive, and arrive."
In late November, Alberta Health Services Inspectors condemned the building, citing a plethora or repairs, health hazards and issues that needed to be addressed https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/eph/Page14650.aspx. Cutler at the time said he didn't know what he would do, but he was entertaining offers from anyone wanting to purchase the building.
LNN has contacted a local real estate company for confirmation that Galt Manor has indeed been sold, and to ask what the future plans are for the building. We have not yet received a reply. We will update our story if and when that occurs.
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