Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-08-07 at 5:10PM

Hillcrest condos?

The Centre of Change could become condos in the coming years if a new plan goes ahead.
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
The Centre of Change could become condos in the coming years if a new plan goes ahead.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- The new owner of a business centre says his plan to turn the former high school into condos is still in early days, but some tenants say it would have been nice to know about it before curious reporters came knocking.

The Centre of Change, the former Hillcrest High School, opened in 2011 as an incubator for small businesses to grow with low overhead. Throughout its 142,000 square feet it houses dance studios, software developers, martial arts and a host of other small business.

Sharan Sohi took over the building on Aug. 1 and has plans to eventually try and turn the whole building into condos.

The plan could start to roll out in as little as six months.

"I think that depends on the city and where the tenants are sitting," he said. "We're trying to work around the tenants."

"We're just starting the plan."

The building is already zoned for residential use so it wouldn't need to go to city council.

Sohi said units could range from 900 to 1,600 square feet. There's no costing yet.

Sohi added that the intention would also be to keep the outside of the building the same.

"There's a lot of unknown at the moment," he said.

Some business owners, like publisher Stacey Voss  of Split Tree Publishing, say while it might be in the early stages it still would have been nice to have found out from Sohi rather than the media.

"I'm a little unimpressed," Voss said. "Honestly out of courtesy it would have been nice for the new owners to send a memo around or something."

The centre has also allowed Voss to get her out of her home basement and hire employees, something she might not be able to do if the plan goes through.

"I really count on this place for its incubation properties," she said.

A visit from tbnewswatch.com reporters on Thursday also marked the first time Western Heritage, an archaeological consulting firm based out of Saskatchewan with an office in the centre, had heard about the plan.

The company has been in the Thunder Bay location since 2011.

Research archaeologist Gjende Bennett said it was a little odd to find out about the plan through the media and he'd have to let his head office know.



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