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Unable to convince a buyer to take on back taxes owed, the City of Thunder Bay has decided to write off $114,974 and put the abandoned Lyceum Theatre up for sale.
Coun. Larry Hebert, a member of the heritage advisory committee, on Wednesday said the city received no bids in a Feb. 19 tax sale to divest the property.
In a closed session of council Monday the city approved a resolution declaring the property surplus, decided to conduct no further repairs on the 105-year-old building and put it on the market.
“We’ll see what what’s going to happen now,” Hebert said. “There are still people contacting us. There are two real estate people with people interested ... We’ve had one other group approach us, a community group looking to maybe turn it back into a theatre, a performance arts place for young people who are aspiring to perform dance or song or acting.”
The latter group, who Hebert did not name, does not have a lot of money, he added.
“But they are interested in using the building.”
Built in 1909, the Lyceum Theatre was used to provide space for travelling shows.
According to the city’s heritage registry, the building features plenty of architectural focal points, including “keystones with bearded faces, segmented semi-circular windows and a large stone panel in the centre of the facade with the name Lyceum incised in large letters.”
The steel-framed, brick-faced structure is also located across the street from the city’s proposed $106.1-million event centre preferred site, the Water Street bus terminal.
Hebert said whoever buys it is faced with some substantial repairs.
“It’s got some damage to it, of course, mould from water because there is a leak in the roof,” Hebert said. “It’s a major leak. But most of the roof is in great shape. The building itself is a solid foundation with some steel and very good concrete in there. So it has some potential.”
The city’s other option, if no one puts an offer in with its realty corporation, is to tear the building down to make way for new development.
Hebert said he hopes if that’s the case that the heritage committee recommends the demolition crew salvages the facade for its heritage properties to maintain the downtown north core’s connection to its past.
Because the building is on the heritage registry demolition would have to be approved.
Hebert said he thinks the city wants to get the building back in the hands of the private sector as soon as possible.
What he doesn’t want is a vacant lot.
“I’ve heard comments from the general public saying it would make a great area for a restaurant. I wouldn’t want to see it turned into a parking lot.”
Opposition groups fighting the event centre’s downtown location have repeatedly cited a lack of parking as one of the main issues with the site.
The city has not been able to contact the building’s California-based owner in about three years.
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