Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Church still courting offers for café and theatre

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Five months after its closure was announced, the Ellice Café and Theatre remains up for sale.

In an interview last week, New Life Ministries told The Metro there has been no formal offer made to purchase the building, located at Ellice Avenue and Sherbrook Street.

"There have been lots of inquiries and people making plans," said Curtis Halbesma, interim pastor at New Life.

"Everyone is still working on their business plans. It’s a big complex to take over."

The café and theatre were opened in February 2005 by the late Rev. Harry Lehotsky and New Life Ministries as an alcohol-free welcoming place for the community.

New Life announced the closure in August 2012 after the church’s small 45-member congregation could no longer afford to subsidize the venture to the tune of $5,000 a month.

Halbesma told The Metro last fall he had already heard from a dozen groups interested in purchasing the building. The church is hoping to sell to a group interested in keeping the building a community-oriented space.

"We’re trying to sell it to people who have a vision to help (the community)," Halbesma said.

"That often means those groups don’t have a lot of money."

In the interim, the theatre portion of the building will remain open until March, Halbesma said.

The delay is pleasing news for the theatre’s largest renter, Merlyn Productions.

"The announcement takes us and our 2013 season from an uncertain start to a running start," said Merlyn founder and director John Chase, a West End resident.

Chase has been producing shows out of the theatre since 2008. The fifth season is expected to start around March spring break with a production still to be confirmed, Chase said.

"Our regular mainstage productions following March are still dates and location to be determined," Chase added, noting the company will have a kid’s production in this year’s Fringe Festival.

"In spite of the uncertainty that still remains in this season, a partial calendar of plays is coming together very well."

New Life is also looking to sell about half of its low-income housing units.
An announcement on that sale is expected shortly, Halbesma said.

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

Facebook.com/TheMetroWPG
Twitter: @metroWPG

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