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BEHIND THE SCENES: Investor says he was duped on Elgin building buy and wants city to step in reporter Jenny Lamothe takes us behind the scenes

A realtor based in Southern Ontario has closed the Elgin Street building he acquired less than a year ago due to the city's declaration of it being unfit for human habitation. He expresses hope that the City of Greater Sudbury will follow a similar course as they did with the Ledo Hotel in June and purchase the property. The realtor, Yinan Xia, alleges being deceived by the previous owner during the purchase and facing difficulties in repairing and securing the building.

The building, spanning from 352 Elgin Street to 362 Elgin Street, has a distinct shape and is positioned behind the Samaritan Centre, near the Ledo hotel. The city's recent acquisition of the triangle-shaped block housing the old hotel has spurred Xia's aspiration for a comparable resolution. Xia discloses that he bought the Elgin building for $2.25 million in October 2022. However, challenges have arisen since the purchase, leading him to consider bankruptcy as he grapples with the building's issues.

Xia claims that the previous owner concealed significant defects during visits and inspections, which he now perceives as manipulation to present the property favourably. His wish for the city to acquire the building is driven by his financial limitations and the need for extensive repairs. He refers to John Andersen, the property manager he hired, for further insights into the building's problems.

Andersen sheds light on omitted information, revealing the existence of an undisclosed basement beneath the structure. He also recounts plumbing issues, including a pipe rupture leading to sewage accumulation. Andersen's attempts to hire security companies and tradespeople to address the problems were met with challenges, from excessive fees to hesitations due to the building's reputation. He also mentions interactions with law enforcement regarding the building's history of violence.

Efforts to reach out to the mayor's office and council members regarding the building's state were met with limited responses. Andersen's outreach to Mayor Paul Lefevbre and Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier faced challenges due to an ongoing IT issue affecting their email communications. Cormier acknowledges that city staff have been in contact with Xia, intending to resolve the situation for the building's occupants.

On July 19, Greater Sudbury Fire Services posted a notice on the building door, citing imminent danger to occupants due to the potential for fires and hindrance of timely evacuation. Temporary safeguards were installed but later stolen, amplifying security concerns. Requests for interviews with city officials were denied, and a statement confirmed conversations with Xia that led to his decision to close the building. Social Services client navigators supported residents during the eviction process.

An order was issued to address the building's compromised safety components and hazards. The owner was required to rectify the issues by a specified date, with the threat of further action if compliance was not met. Xia hopes for collaboration with the city to find a solution, recognizing the building's potential for revitalization. Despite financial constraints, he aims to navigate the challenges and secure the building's future.

Video Summary:

Yinan Xia, a developer who purchased a building on Elgin Street in Sudbury, alleges that he was deceived during the purchase and now seeks the city's intervention. Some of the specific issues and defects he claims were hidden from him by the previous owner include issues related to the neighborhood's demographics and the surprising discovery of a non-existent basement beneath part of the building at 352 Elgin Street. The basement's existence only came to light when a tenant reported plumbing problems, revealing a snapped pipe and a foot of sewage. This building, which has faced numerous problems over its 30-year history, appears to be in a state of progressive deterioration, exacerbated since the city posted a fire safety notice. There is currently a two-day deadline for improving the building's habitability, but it seems unlikely to be achievable given the ongoing disputes and challenges related to ownership and fitness for occupation.

As for legal actions or proceedings against the seller for compensation or remedies, there is no indication at this point that any legal action has been initiated. However, this is a matter is actively following to determine the veracity of Yinan Xia's claims and the potential legal implications.

Regarding the response from local authorities such as the police and fire department to the claims of criminal activities and safety concerns associated with the building, there is no confirmation of specific actions taken. Due to the property being privately owned, has not been able to confirm the details. According to the property manager, there have been multiple calls for attempted murder at the building, as well as arson attempts and issues with squatters causing problems for paying tenants. These allegations suggest that the building has been a source of significant safety and security concerns in the area.