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Finlandia Co-op's effort to bid for Finnish Labour Temple falls short (2 Photos)

The community group hopes another purchaser will maintain the integrity of the building.

THUNDER BAY — A community group established to save and preserve Thunder Bay's historic Finnish Labour Temple and Hoito Restaurant says it has failed to meet an Aug. 12 target date for submitting a bid.

The Finlandia Co-operative was established after the Finlandia Association, with more than $1 million in debts, announced in late spring that it was liquidating.

Co-op spokesperson Paula Haapanen revealed Wednesday that the group fell just short of arranging financing for the purchase of the 110-year-old hall, listed at $599,000.

"We were going to partner with four very socially-minded entrepreneurs to form a holding company to collaborate on the ownership of the Finlandia," Haapanen said. "Unfortunately the financing for one of the partners fell through."

She said "the building itself presented too many unknowns and too many risks for their board, so they had to decline. That kind of put a wrench into everything."

A spokesperson for the Finlandia Association told Tbnewswatch Wednesday he's not aware of what other bids might have come in to Grant Thornton, the liquidator.

Stressing that he wasn't speaking on the liquidator's behalf, Derek Parks explained that "Today they were starting to accept bids...If nothing comes forward, or only one bid comes through and its 'under,' it's up to the liquidator to decide whether they accept that bid or do something else."

A representative of Grant Thornton could not immediately be reached for comment.

Besides maintaining the labour temple's place as a cultural icon in Thunder Bay, Haapanen said her group had some ideas for advancing relationships with Finland "through business channels, helping to bring investment into the community."

What happens to the site now, she said,depends on who the successful bidder is.

"There are a number of different interests. I understand in the last few days even, there was more interest shown in the building. There were some individuals. I know there are community groups."

Haapanen said she's been led to believe that a few of the parties plan to maintain the integrity of the building "so let's hope one of them is the successful party."

The co-operative has raised tens of thousands of dollars from the community.

Haapanen said that once a winning bidder is selected, the co-op will reach out to donors to find out if they want their money to go to the new owner for renovations,  or if they'd prefer a refund.

The Finlandia Association also owns the Tapiola Sports Park off Government Road.

According to Parks, a purchaser has been found for that property, but details have not been released as yet.


Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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