News Local

$13 million needed to redevelop Dunlop Street West theatre

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner



The city wants to buy W. A. Fisher Auditorium and fund-raise the $13 million needed to redevelop the Dunlop Street West theatre.

Councillors gave initial approval Monday to enter into negotiations with HIP Development to buy Fisher and some property on the former Barrie Central Collegiate site as part of a land exchange. The city owns Red Storey Field right behind BCC.

“After years of tearing down public buildings, we have a chance to save one and keep a concert hall that has been at the heart of our community for 50 years,” Mayor Jeff Lehman said.

“The architects have confirmed that the building can be physically separated during demolition of the rest of the school,” he said. “There would be a cut line roughly where the former music room and change rooms are. These would also be retained as back-of-house for the concert hall.”

City staff will also gauge community support for acquiring the 950-seat auditorium, and the public's willingness for a capital fund-raising campaign for 100% - or another percentage councillors agree upon – of the required redevelopment cost estimated at $13 million.

Staff will also look into grant options from other levels of government that could support the auditorium's redevelopment.

Final approval of this motion will be considered by council at its June 26 meeting.

Once councillors have this information, buying the auditorium and any involved land exchange will be on the Sept. 11 agenda to consider the next steps.

Lehman said HIP officials have already been part of the talks and are interested.

“Details of a land swap have not been discussed but could involve part or all of Red Storey Field and/or the other city owned lands along Bradford Street,” he said.

Last April, Waterloo-based HIP confirmed it had bought and will develop property containing not only BCC, but the former Prince of Wales school site for $5.8 million from

the Simcoe County District School Board.

It's to be a residential project called Modern Bayside Residences, at 125 Dunlop St. W. and 50 Bradford St.

The property's use is institutional and the zoning is C1-2. Central area commercial (C1) and transition centre commercial (C2) zoning offers a number of uses.

In the residential sector, this zoning permits apartments, all types of townhouses, single-family homes and rooming houses.

In the commercial sector, they allow uses from hotel/motel to office, medical, restaurant and shopping centre. For institutional, the zoning allows school, library, museum and religious use.

The city owns Red Storey Field, and in the past has said its future could depend on the purchaser of the Barrie Central/Prince of Wales property. It could eventually be sold to that buyer/developer, depending upon whether the city's long-term vision for downtown Barrie is maintained by any proposed development.

The 7.4-acre site, along with Red Storey Field and three or four land parcels along Bradford Street, could also be combined for the redevelopment - potentially about 20 acres.

More than two years ago, the school board decided Barrie Central and the former Prince of Wales Public School were surplus to its needs and approved selling them.

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