Sudbury’s $30 million Plas des Arts construction to progress through the winter

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Cold weather and snow won’t stop construction on the multidisciplinary arts centre in downtown Sudbury.

The construction for Place des Arts on the corner of Larch and Elgin streets started behind schedule in August and will continue through the winter.

Once the $30 million project is complete, Place des Arts will be a contemporary arts and culture facility for francophones — which includes a 299-seat theatre, art gallery, bookstore and early childhood autistic centre.

Place des Arts is on track to open by December 2020, says executive director Leo Therrien.

During the winter months, workers will use orange tarps and heaters to warm up the areas where they’re working and warm the concrete before it’s poured.

“The plan is still to have it done by Christmas next year and put a nice ribbon on it for a nice gift to Sudbury,” said Therrien.

The final design of Place des Arts, a $30-million project that bills itself as a multidisciplinary arts centre of excellence in downtown Sudbury, is a four-storey, 40,000 sq. ft. structure on Elgin Street.

Funds have been provided by federal, provincial and municipal sources.

The design is a joint venture between two firms: Sudbury’s Yallowega Belanger Salach and Toronto-based Moriyama & Teshima Architects.

Stephane Gauthier, chair of Place des Arts, said the design itself draws from the world around it, both natural and man-made.

“We wanted to feel that this building has sort of grown from within the soil in time,” Gauthier told the media.

The architecture also echoes the King Edward Hotel which once stood on the same property. It will make use of Corten steel, a dark metal that oxidizes and takes on a rusty hue after about a year of exposure to the elements.

“It’s rusted steel that stabilizes after six months and it has the colour of our geological land,” Gauthier said. “But it also has a very clear reference to our industrial past and present, whether it be rails or mining and industrial fields.”

Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs, says the quest to capture the spirit of the Francophone community is a “foundational element” of the design.

“This speaks to the soul of the community and the architecture and the spirit of the north,” Mulroney said.

In September, Council approved a request from the arts and culture centre for $7.5 million, which will be used to cover the upfront costs of construction.

According to a staff report, “Place des Arts has requested the city’s consent to a mortgage of its lease with the city. The organization is securing a line of credit for $7.5 million from Caisse Populaire Voyageurs Inc., which is payable on demand, and the organization is seeking to secure it by way of a mortgage against the lease on the property,”

The terms of the lease require the city’s consent for such a mortgage.

Formerly a parking lot, the space will house a concert hall, multi-purpose studio, the Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario, a 40-seat bistro with a seasonal sidewalk terrace, a boutique, an early childhood artistic centre with a playground and office space.

The municipality previously contributed $5.5 million, to be disbursed over three years. So far, it has released one funding installment and a second $1 million payment is expected in the next several weeks, as the project has achieved the milestones associated with this allotment of funds – including site plan control agreement, awarding of the construction contract and issuance of the conditional building permit.

A third disbursement of $1.5 million is expected in spring 2020, when construction is 50 per cent completed.

In addition, Sudbury contributed the downtown parking lot and about $150,000 in operating costs for 2019.

Meredith Armstrong, the city’s acting director of economic development, says the arrangement “is a pretty standard approach for assisting with cash flow in capital projects like this.”

“It allows the project to keep paying contractors, keep the work rolling, and then submit those expenses to senior levels of government for reimbursement.”

The project also received $8.25 million in funding from Ontario and $12.5 million from the federal government.

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