A guided tour of highrise in Hay River

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Harry Satdeo wants Hay River to know that the Mackenzie Place highrise is very close to being ready to reopen.

And to prove that, the owner of the apartment building invited The Hub for a floor-by-floor guided tour on Aug. 7.

The highrise has been closed since a fire on the 11th floor on March 15.

Harry Satdeo, owner of the Mackenzie Place highrise, wears a protective mask during a tour of the building on Aug. 7. The protective mask is by order of the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission following a fire on the 11th floor of the building on March 15.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

“It could be open tomorrow,” Satdeo said. “It’s just the bureaucracy.”

That bureaucracy includes the requirement for two more engineering reports on the 16-storey building’s integrity and air quality.

Only the 11th floor, along with the 10th and 12th floors, were off limits during the tour. People entering the building have to wear breathing masks, but respiratory equipment is required to go onto the 11th and 12th floors by order of the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission.

“We’re hoping that the government will let us block off the 11th floor, the 12th floor and the 10th floor,” said Satdeo. “The rest of the building could be opened.”

In fact, he estimated that 80 apartments are ready to be occupied of the 122 in the building.

Many of the apartments are cleaned or are in the process of being cleaned, and there are only some with what appears to be furniture from former tenants.

Many of the apartments below the 11th floor on the north side of the building have no obvious signs of water damage from the firefighting effort. However, it is difficult to tell how much damage was originally caused by water, since it has drained away since the fire in March and former tenants have removed most of their belongings.

During a tour of the Mackenzie Place highrise on Aug. 7, building owner Harry Satdeo stands in an apartment being cleaned up on the second floor. Satdeo said some carpet in the apartment may have been soiled by water damage from a March 15 fire on the 11th floor, while the rest of the cleanup involved removing items left by the former tenant.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Some apartments look ready to occupy, while others await cleaning or still have items to remove or repairs to be made from water damage. Some apartments were damaged by tenants, who left holes in walls and painted drawings on walls.

“We have to do a general cleaning up and that’s what we’re in the process of doing,” Satdeo said on the third floor, adding that three people are involved in the clean-up.

The building owner noted a soiled carpet in a second-floor apartment may have been damaged by water from the firefighting effort.

There was water damage in a fifth-floor apartment where a carpet and possibly some flooring underneath will have to be replaced.

And some water damage is visible on a wall of a sixth-floor apartment.

In an apartment on the ninth floor, about 12 feet of floor tile had to be removed because of water damage, and more damage is visible high on a wall and ceiling.

Satdeo said the water damage gets worse the closer you get to the 11th floor, and the 10th floor has the most damage.

During a tour of the Mackenzie Place highrise in Hay River on Aug. 7, building owner Harry Satdeo points out some water damage to a wall and ceiling on the ninth floor as a result of a March 15 fire on the 11th floor.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The owner admitted he has not yet been on the 11th floor, the site of the fire.

The tour resumed on the higher floors, where there was no water damage or any visible smoke damage.

On the 14th floor – which is the 13th storey because the building does not count a 13th floor – Satdeo said, “Every suite on this floor could be occupied tomorrow.”

The building owner said he does not know if the Department of Health and Social Services will agree with his assessment of the highrise and his idea of reopening with some floors off limits, but he suspects it is waiting for the engineering reports on structural integrity and air quality.

“You could have it open,” Satdeo said. “If the department figures it’s not safe, then we’ll keep it closed.”

An estimated 125 people were displaced by the fire.

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