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This article was published 17/12/2010 (3682 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Canad Inns corporation has asked all three levels of government for money to help renovate the Metropolitan Theatre.
The 91-year-old heritage venue has sat empty on Donald Street since 1987, when it stopped functioning as a movie theatre. Canad Inns purchased the building in late 2006 from downtown development agency CentreVenture and initially planned to transform the theatre into a rock 'n' roll-themed "destination centre."
The Winnipeg hotel chain is still planning to follow through on that pledge, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said this week.
"The owners are talking to the other levels of government as far as funding for a historical facility," Katz said in an interview. "The scenario is all three levels would be involved equally."
The government funding would represent a fraction of what Canad Inns intends to spend on the renovation, said a source familiar with the proposal. The mayor did not disclose the size of the funding request and Canad Inns did not respond to requests for interviews.
After taking over the building, Canad Inns spent $500,000 on interior renovations that included capping a basement well, roof repairs, the removal of an interior drop ceiling and the installation of a temporary furnace, the company said in a statement in 2009, when CentreVenture mulled the possibility of reacquiring the heritage structure.
Now, the downtown development agency is working on a plan that could offer the Metropolitan additional tax credits. The Met is located within the boundaries of a proposed sports, hospitality and entertainment district that would encompass 11 blocks of downtown Winnipeg and also include the MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Convention Centre and the Burton Cummings Theatre.
The city and province have agreed in principle to designate the proposed district as a tax-increment financing zone, which would allow new property-tax revenue that results from improvements within the zone to be reinvested in the same area.
A plan to co-ordinate the operations of the Metropolitan Theatre with those of the non-profit Burton Cummings Theatre and the city-owned Pantages Playhouse Theatre has been shelved by the city. Some North American cities place heritage theatres under a single management umbrella to prevent the venues from competing for the same entertainment dollars.
Although Canad Inns has not disclosed its plans for the Met, all three venues are expected to have different uses.
The Burton Cummings Theatre continues to eke out an existence as a concert venue, despite the non-profit Walker Theatre Performing Arts Group's inability to procure provincial funds for a renovation of the building.
The Pantages Playhouse, meanwhile, is being operated by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on a trial basis. The WSO has an option to extend its management until the end of March and possibly take over the theatre in the long term.
In recent years, the Pantages was losing money for the city. Council hopes the WSO will stick with the 96-year-old venue.
"I'm extremely excited by the possibility of the symphony taking over the Pantages," Katz said.