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Thunder Bay Centre of Change prepared to open soon

About 30 businesses and non-profit organizations are scheduled to start moving into the former Hillcrest High School in July.
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Sandi Boucher, manager for the Thunder Bay Centre of Change, stands near the former Hillcrest High School on High Street Monday afternoon. Boucher says businesses and organizations are ready to start moving into the former school July 1. (Scott Paradis, tbnewswatch.com)
About 30 businesses and non-profit organizations are scheduled to start moving into the former Hillcrest High School in July.

Organizations renting space in the High Street building will begin renovating the classrooms in an effort to transform the school into the Thunder Bay Centre of Change

 “On July 1st it’s ours and tenants can start moving in and doing the renovations to make their spaces their own,” Sandi Boucher, manager for the Thunder Bay Centre for Change, told Dougall Media reporters Monday morning. “We were trying to negotiate an earlier date, but things got a little too complicated, so we decided not to rush thing. We are going with the original date.”

Each organization making the Centre its home will have to decide when it will be open to the public. While some organizations won’t need to renovate, other businesses may want to give their space a significant face lift.

Meanwhile the Centre will likely have its own grand opening sometime in August or September. About 90 per cent of the organizations renting space are expected to be up and running by then.

“We have 30 different business entities; some are for-profit and some are not-for profit,” she said about the Centre’s confirmed tenants. “There’s everything from film production to martial arts, photography, research and development, and technology and development.

“It’s the most eclectic mix. I think it’s an excellent representation of the business community in Thunder Bay all in one building and looking to work together.” 

Some of the businesses and organizations expected to be part of that mix include:
  • Design Build – Hillcrest Division
  • World Dance Centre Inc.
  • Bicycles for Humanity
  • LGBTQ Resource Centre
  • Hillcrest MarketPlace
  • Superior Images.

The Centre will have some renovations of its own to complete before then. The number of stairs leading into, and inside of, the building makes accessibility a serious issue. But it’s an issue that shouldn’t be a concern for long as the Centre has the approval it needs to install a central elevator.

Vacancy is also an issue that appears to be resolved. About two months ago the Centre still had about 11 vacant spaces. Now there’s only one room that isn’t spoken for, and that’s the large top floor space the school used as its library.

Robert Zanette will officially become the for-profit owner of the building once the sale is finalized.
“He and I have been working hand-in-hand on this project since probably last August,” she said. “It’s a perfect example of how for-profit and not-for profit can work together.”