Proposal for rock museum on hold
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/07/2006 (6112 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A plan to convert the Metropolitan Theatre into a rock ‘n’ roll museum is on hold and possibly dead as downtown development agency CentreVenture has started looking for new ideas to save the 83-year-old heritage building.
The Met, a national historic site, was built in 1923 and spent most of its existence as a movie theatre. Largely unused since 1987, the building’s stock improved when the nearby MTS Centre opened in 2004.
After a considering a number of redevelopment proposals, CentreVenture began earlier this year pursuing the idea of transforming The Met into a non-profit but self-sustaining museum, performing arts space, restaurant and nightclub.
Initially, some of the city’s most influential businesspeople were behind the project, including Hartley Richardson of James Richardson & Sons, CanWest Global CEO Leonard Asper, Manitoba Moose owner Mark Chipman, Winnipeg Free Press co-owner Bob Silver, Canad Inns boss Leo Ledohowski and Dennis Levy, general manager of Levy’s Leathers, the largest manufacturer of guitar straps in the world.
But the group fractured and a business plan expected this spring did not materialize.
“Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, the proposal is not going through in its current form,” said Diane Bampton, CentreVenture’s executive director.
“Having said that, there remains considerable interest in the building.”
On Friday, CentreVenture issued a formal call for proposals for the building, which requires at least $5 million in renovations.
A group including Richardson, Asper, Chipman and Silver may re-submit a new rock-museum proposal without Ledohowski, Richardson said last week.
His group’s original plan was based on a financial model of private-public partnership, similar to The Tavern In The Park in Assiniboine Park.
The project would have incorporated the museum aspects of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the performance features of a House of Blues nightclub and the interactive elements of the Experience Music Project in Seattle.
“It’s unfortunate the rock museum is dead because it would have been a great tourist attraction for the city and it would have protected a heritage building at the same time,” said Coun. Franco Magnifico, who chairs city council’s downtown development committee.
“We need more things like that. We need to be a destination city, not just another fly-by-night whistle stop.
“There were some big players involved in that one, so I’m not sure what happened.”
CentreVenture is accepting development proposals for The Met until Sept. 18.