Khyber Building Update, January 2018

The 1588 Barrington Street Building Preservation Society (1588 Society) is a not-for profit organization founded in 2015 for the sole purpose of purchasing, restoring, and rejuvenating 1588 Barrington Street, the Khyber Building.

Originally consisting of representatives from Friends of the Khyber, the Khyber Centre for the Arts, and Neptune Theatre, the group has expanded to include members at large from the arts sector as well as several professionals in law, business, and communications.

On Tuesday January 30 Halifax Regional Council will vote on a motion related to the 1588 Society’s proposal to purchase the Khyber Building. The motion (originally put forth on December 12) asks the Society to provide additional assurances and documentation by October 31, 2018. Of note, the motion asks that the Society provide confirmation of both federal and provincial and funding and begin fundraising without giving the Society – or our funders – any assurances that we will be able to buy the building.

In the interest of time, the Society has sent HRM a letter answering many of the questions raised by the motion. The letter also explains the conundrum that passing the city’s motion as is would create for the Society in regards to funds; that is we will only be able to secure funding from the provincial or federal governments, and fundraise, once we own the building.

On January 30 we will ask that councillors review the information we have provided and vote to move forward with the sale in an expedient manner. Following the vote, the Society hopes to work closely with HRM staff to answer any further questions and ensure the success of this project.

BACKGROUND

In March of 2016 Halifax Regional Council voted to sell the Khyber Building through the community stream, which gives not-for-profit organizations the opportunity to purchase properties that have potential for community use without having to compete with for-profit ventures.

The city then held a public meeting in November of 2016 followed by a call for proposals.

In May, 2017 the 1588 Society submitted a proposal to buy the building.

In a nutshell, our proposal:

  • Preserves the exterior of the building and as much of heritage interior as possible;
  • Includes affordable downtown office space for arts and community groups;
  • Adds an elevator, balcony, new spaces, and gender neutral washrooms;
    Features rehearsal, performance, gathering, and meeting space for below-market rates; and
  • Provides leasable space to businesses that complement the Society’s mandate.

Our goal is to not just restore the Khyber Building to its former architectural glory, but to re-envision the space as a performing arts hub that will re-establish its leading place in the local arts community. At the same time, a redesigned and rejuvenated Khyber Building will serve as a gathering place for communities seeking like-minded artistic and creative exploration as well as a welcoming space for the local LGBTQ+ community.

Following what we hope will be the successful purchase of the Building, the 1588 Society will embark on a capital campaign to fund the needed renovation; this will include investments from all three levels of government.

We are on the precipice of an exciting new chapter in the ongoing history of 1588 Barrington Street. We look forward to working with all of you to rejuvenate our beloved Khyber Building!

Sincerely,

The Board of the 1588 Barrington Building Preservation Society

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