'This place is begging for somebody to love it': City seeks best buyer for Pantages Playhouse
Published Tuesday, June 12, 2018 5:22PM CST
Inside the century old Pantages Playhouse Theatre, it's easy to cast you mind back to its heyday, a time when it played host to performers like Harry Houdini, Buster Keaton and Laurel and Hardy.
"It's been a pivotal building for Winnipeg in terms of the culture and the heritage," said the theatre’s general manager Lyn Stienstra.
And one day, it could all be yours. The city has put out a request for proposals to buy the property.
"We're not in the theatre business," said John Kiernan, director, City of Winnipeg planning property and development. "The WSO has been great stewards of the facility, including bookings and making it available to the community. But we're not in the theatre business."
It’s a theatre with a long list of maintenance work that needs to be done. "Whether it’s, you know, the wall shifting on the outside of the building, the doors that don't close properly," said Stienstra.
There are also cosmetic problems, such as threadbare green rooms in the basement, and the decades-old seating in the theatre itself. "It's just unpleasant to sit in them for a long time," said Stienstra.
Repairing it all won't be cheap: the WSO estimates it would cost $19 million to fix it up and add more revenue streams.
"This place is begging for somebody to love it, and to give it a lot of money," said Stienstra.
And if they're willing to do that, they may be able to get a discount on the price of purchase. "It's not, who can offer us the highest dollar value," said John Kiernan. "It's about the repurposing of the facility to ensure it continues as part of our community."
The new owner won't be able to tear down the building to accomplish that. The Pantages is designated as a heritage building.
"It has to stay original," said Cindy Tugwell from Heritage Winnipeg. "It's the top, what we used to call a grade one building, where it cannot be changed from its original purpose."
We won't have to wait too long to see what kind of interest there is in the Pantages. The closing date for the request for proposals is August 31, 2018.