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Palace Theatre saved from the wrecking ball

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It appears the Palace Theatre will remain standing.

The more than 100-year-old building, which is owned by the University of Manitoba, has been vacant since 2002 and the university had previously shared a memo to the city in May saying the building would be demolished in the next couple of months.

The university had previously submitted a refund request for an inspection that was performed in April 2022 because of the scheduled demolishment, but withdrew the request on June 3.

In a statement to CTV News, the university said following discussion with interested community groups the Palace Theatre will not be demolished at this time.

"We will continue to consult on how best to proceed with the site in a manner that is consistent with our commitment to community partnerships," the school said in an emailed statement. "Starting on June 13, UM will address safety concerns with the existing structure by proceeding with required asbestos and mold abatement."

Michael Redhead Champagne, board chair for the North End Community Renewal Corporation and a member of the North End Historical Society, said he and the corporation had met with the U of M on Monday.

"Right now, the work they are doing on the Palace Theatre, is to make the structure safe for any future redevelopment or renewal that may be happening," said Redhead Champagne.

The building, which is located at 501 Selkirk Avenue, has been the home of ventures over the years including a movie theatre and a flea market.

Redhead Champagne said the corporation has been working with the community to determine what that space could eventually turn into one day, noting he has heard that people once again want to see it become a theatre.

"In that space, what they would like is programming that is arts, theatre and culture related. As well as a venue for performances and gatherings that can happen within."

He added the university has been open to working with the community, but said next steps for what an actual plan will look like have not been determined yet.

Cindy Tugwell, the executive director of Heritage Winnipeg said she is elated to hear the Palace won't be demolished.

She said the building should be used for whatever the community needs it for.

"It's an important part, remnant, historically, but also built heritage is very important to preserve," said Tugwell. "We have to start going the extra mile to reuse these structures."

"I'm very pleased because I think revitalization isn't just in the downtown. I think it's very important to do it also in places like the North End that have amazing history and heritage. Certainly, Selkirk Avenue is a big part of that."

Redhead Champagne said the North End Historical Society will be meeting on the weekend and create a team to work on a plan to preserve the Palace as a community asset.

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