Arts group reached agreement to modernize and manage Pantages theater


A group representing arts organizations is set to take control of the Pantages Theater, spend millions on it and repair the 107-year-old building.The Performing Arts Coalition (PAC) reached an agreement with the owner of the old site to buy it for a dollar.

Details of the deal were released at a meeting of the city’s real estate, planning and development committee on Monday.

Ross McGowan, former President of CentreVenture, and Curt Vossen, President and CEO of Richardson International Ltd., entered into negotiations with Alex Boersma and his partner, who purchased the city’s theater for $ 530,000.

McGowan and Vossen have pledged that PAC will raise between $ 10 million and $ 15 million to restore the historic site and install a management team to operate it.

“We are committed in writing to restoring and refitting the theater for the home of the Winnipeg Symphony and others,” McGowan told reporters.

According to Ross McGowan of the Performing Arts Consortium, Pantages can regain its former glory and will house the Winnipeg Symphony and possibly other groups. (Walter Bernal / CBC)

The Boersma company will keep a portion of the property next to the building and develop housing there.

The matter was referred to the committee because an easement is required to secure the installation of public art Bloody Saturday – a streetcar sculpture commemorating the general strike in Winnipeg in 1919 – would remain at the corner of Main Street and Market Avenue.

The subdivision would be built on a strip of property between Pantages and the sculpture of the tram.

Boersma says there is still a lot of planning to do before you can reveal what housing development looks like or how many units are involved.

“It is under development. It’s so preliminary, but with our consultants, we are really comfortable that we can achieve what we want to do, ”said Boersma.

The developer says the location – across from City Hall, next to the Centennial Concert Hall and down the street from the Royal Manitoba Theater Center – is perfectly suited to the type of project they wish to carry out .

“I think it’s a unique opportunity to do something really special that sort of like bookends for this whole block of buildings,” said Boersma.

Alex Boersma says that a development alongside Pantages represents a “unique opportunity in life”. (Walter Bernal / CBC)

McGowan says CentreVenture did a major analysis of the Pantages building several years ago and is confident that the Performing Arts Coalition has a solid understanding of what is needed to restore and modernize the old site.

“It continues to deteriorate, and our fear was that without a major intervention, we would have another Metropolitan Theater in our hands,” said McGowan.

The Metropolitan Theater remained empty for many years and was not saved until after a multi-million dollar restoration by Canad Inns and government support.


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