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Tbnewswatch Local News
Saturday May 30 2015
4:27 AM EDT
2014-08-07 at 17:10

Hillcrest condos?

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

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 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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Stephen says:
fastball: What downtown? There's no downtown! I understand what you are saying, but this so-called city is so spread's such a mess now that I despair of it ever being fixed.
8/10/2014 4:14:39 PM
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fastball says:
Starting to attract more of the population to live in the downtown cores is a great first step to re-forming this city.
Instead of spreading the population and the accompanying city services over hundreds of square kilometers - and then complaining about the tax cost to maintain those services - let's see if we could move people closer to the downtown areas.
A significant number of people would love to live downtown if there was good, convenient, affordable housing. Not everyone cares about a big backyard and shoveling driveways. Not everyone cares about living in the suburbs or in the country. To be able to step out of your building and be close to shopping, or entertainment, or work or public transit...that has an attraction to many people.
It's ridiculous to see the number of people slagging an enterprise just because it's not your personal cup of tea.
8/9/2014 1:50:53 PM
pfi says:
Maybe the new owners where going to notify the tenants when they had their T's crossed and I's dotted. They are probably drafting a plan to move the current tenants into one end of the building. Well they renovate one end. Then move them to the renovated business section permanently. We will now in the short term. Great idea.
8/8/2014 9:20:49 PM
nvjgu says:
Take a picture and tear it down. What is it 100 yr's old all ready. St Joes should buy it tear it down and build a health care facility for seniors.
8/8/2014 6:56:02 PM
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Renegade120860 says:
"The Centre of Change, the former Hillcrest High School, opened in 2011 as an incubator for small businesses to grow with low overhead".

If you look at the center's Facebook page, you could see that it hasn't been updated ( last entry sometime in 2012 ). Gives you the impression that the previous owners just didn't have any 21st century marketing/PR strategy and probably couldn't successfully operate a lemonade stand.

The outside property appearance is also lacking.

If I was a potential tennent, this place would a turn-off.

Perhaps the name should have been changed to reflect these conditions and to match the situation in the city.

How about :

The Thunder Bay Center of Stagnation"?????
8/8/2014 3:31:12 PM
keep it real says:
quote "Great way to notify existing tenants. Stay classy Sharan"

Sharan is a very classy self made sucessful man
If ya want to talk about Classy it's the past owner that ran the building into the ground you should be talking about.
If ya didnt know it was for sale, who's fault is that??
Blame the bldg's buyer cause you didnt know what was going on ??
ya might want to re think your classy statement
8/8/2014 1:42:36 PM
Crinkles says:
Great idea... its close enough to the downtown that residents could just walk to that proposed event centre, thus reducing the number of parking stalls.

8/8/2014 11:33:06 AM
varga says:
Not only do I love the regular negative ninny complainers on these threads but it is a total laugh at how uninformed they are. Here we have people arguing over the merits of a project that is just an idea right now. Brilliant. Already complaining about parking with an entire parking lot across the street from the school. Even better. And the building has no significance; other than being the first high school in the city, being the highest point in the city as well as many other historical and architectural points. These people are starting to make me think that they grab a coffee and set out with intent to be angry and just look for an excuse and then make up "facts" to support their imaginary thing to be angry about.
As far as the condo idea...maybe good maybe bad who knows since it is just an idea right now. I will say this are not a "if you build it they will come..." scenario. The people need to be here already.
8/8/2014 10:37:48 AM
CM Punk says:
Commonsense, you are correct in your post.
People here in Thunder Bay cannot think beyond their driveway.
Go to any large metropolitan area and see older buildings with lofts, condos and apartments up top and commercial business on the ground floors. And guess what? There is no parking anywhere and it still works.

This town needs to get out of the bushy ditches and think 2014.
8/8/2014 10:01:02 AM
progress now says:
I have to say, Punk, that people in Thunder Bay do see beyond their driveways and your comments on climbing out of bushy ditches seem quite uninformed and certainly uncalled for. But it is your view and you are entitled to it.

Consider, for a moment, that what is appropriate planning in one city is not necessarily appropriate in another. Personally, I eschew "Monkey See, Monkey Do" planning. I wish city administration did. Council would fall into line and there we be hope for a city planning process rooted in reality.

As to the the proposed condos, I think it is a terrific idea if it can be made to work ... but in any event it will be an expensive proposition. It seems to have a head start on the FWCI condos, which have have offered more hype than hope for prospective condo hunters. I wish we could get an update on this from Mr. Angus who is an associate in the firm of Mr. Habib. Before we consider his Victoria avenue scheme, credibility must be established at FWCI.

8/8/2014 2:11:20 PM
newhere says:
Good luck with the condo-conversion and hopefully it will be a success. Hopefully developers will look at the empty lots on Algoma (the former Shaw Bakery and where the community garden is) as potential condo sites. The move to urbanization is long overdue and both young professional and retirees would likely be the prime purchasers. Regarding the current tenants of Hillcrest, how about offering them a rent to own package for some of the properties on Simpson St. Seems like a win-win.
8/8/2014 9:37:09 AM
Royalflush says:
Good luck in converting to condos, Just hope there is no asbestos in there. Would be good to see that building put to full usage.
8/8/2014 8:49:41 AM
progress now says:
Be interesting to see what kind of warranty prospective condo owners would have. When I was enquiring about a warranty for the conversion at FWCI I was informed the condos would come with none as it is not a newbuild. You walk through the suite before you buy, sign on the dotted line and it is yours...yikes.

If others have different information feel free to correct this. Frankly I hope the information I received was incorrect.

8/7/2014 11:31:47 PM
tsb says:
8/7/2014 11:01:13 PM
Royalflush says:
Was that really necessary?
8/9/2014 8:54:39 AM
tsb says:
Are any of the negative comments posted to this site necessary?

Reading this site makes me wish I didn't live here but at the same time I just can't look away.
8/10/2014 2:10:22 PM
Rob20 says:
Level it and start from scratch. The location is great but the building itself is a mess. I'm getting tired of this nonsense that every old building is somehow a landmark that we need to preserve. It is not. It's an old high school. And an architectural mess top of that
8/7/2014 10:38:55 PM
commonsense says:
The story says Sharan Sohi "took over" the building on Aug. 1, so I presume this means it was bought and sold?
I agree with tenants that it would have been courteous to inform them.
They must have a lease that dictates the length of time they are renting for.
Is the building totally rented?
Could it work with a combination of business and condos?
Many condo properties in other places have ground floor commercial, then office for 1-2 floors, and condos on top floors.
I bet there's a nice view, and if some of those lake-facing windows could be replaced with larger windows, while still maintaining the character of the building, it could work on all accounts.
The business parking required in the daytime could be tenant/visitor parking in the evening.
Could work with a mix, but would the condos owners own the whole building and be landlord to the rental space? It works elsewhere, why not here?
8/7/2014 10:26:04 PM
bubba says:
With all those stairs and goofy levels elevators will be nightmare, and a must. Never mind any parking.
8/7/2014 8:25:02 PM
JPM1953 says:
Pie in the sky and even more unnewsworthy?????
8/7/2014 7:37:24 PM
jonthunder says:
who would want a place to live in that junk-yard.
8/7/2014 6:38:48 PM
Ed itw says:
This is a very difficult building to work with.
You would need 5 or 6 elevators to get to every level. At the end of the day its just and old school with a great view but no architectural significances.
8/7/2014 6:37:13 PM
ibrando says:
Great way to notify existing tenants. Stay classy Sharan.
8/8/2014 10:02:10 AM
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