University of Alberta Ring Houses purchased for $1, saved from demolition

The University of Alberta's historic Ring Houses will not be torn down after an Edmonton real estate developer purchased the buildings for $1.

The four houses - that are over 100 years old - and two U of A East Campus Village houses were sold to developer Primavera Development Group.

The buildings will be dismantled brick by brick before being moved to a new location to become the centerpieces of an arts and sculpture community development project, according to the U of A and Primavera Development Group.

"We recognize the really important historical significance of the Ring Houses," U of A president Bill Flanagan told CTV News Edmonton on Friday. "We're really pleased that that history will be preserved and form part of this new community hub."

The four houses were built between 1911 and 1914 and were part of the U of A's first campus.

The houses served a number of uses over the years, but were recently decommissioned. 

The U of A said budget constraints meant it could no longer look after the maintenance costs of the buildings.

”We believe in the potential of the Ring Houses to anchor a new neighbourhood that also reflects how Edmontonians have used and enjoyed the homes over the past century," Primavera Development Group president Ken Cantor said in a news release. 

"They will become an artistic hub that will host activities such as The Edmonton Sculpture Project and include public access and amenities, that pay homage to their experiences in their first neighbourhood.”

A petition with over 2,300 signatures that started in February called on the U of A to suspend its plans for demolition of the houses.

"I certainly understand that some community members wanted to see the houses preserved in their current location, but that was not a sustainable option for the university," said Flanagan.

"The homes will dismantled and preserved at Primavera's expense, so they're putting a significant investment in the preservation of these houses, all to advance their vision of a reimagined future for these houses." 

It's not yet clear where the new community featuring the Ring Houses will be.