Work is finally set to begin on North Delta’s new centre for the arts.
On Monday, Oct. 30, council awarded Maple Leaf Homes Ltd. the contract to build the centre. The work will be done at the same time as the company builds its Delta Gardens development next door.
The new 11,000 square foot arts centre will be built adjacent to the North Delta Recreation Centre just steps from the site of the late-Firehall Centre for the Arts.
“The old building served a great purpose and served the community well, but it was a very tired and aged facility that had seen certainly better days,” Coun. Robert Campbell said. “This takes us from cobbling together a space to provide for our performing arts and culture people, to providing a space that’s of a quality second to none in the Lower Mainland.
“This is on the same level as the Orpheum Annex,” he continued. “It’s wonderful to be able to sit here and see this being approved and knowing that Delta is going to have a facility that’s on a level of something you would see in the centre of a large city like Vancouver.”
The facility will be double the size of the Firehall Centre and include 120 retractable seats, allowing for a more flexible use of the theatre space. As well, the building will include three multi-purpose rooms, large lobby/foyer spaces on the first and second floors, and a concession area.
Most importantly, the new centre will include a dressing rooms, a green room, props storage and professional lighting and sound equipment, all of which the old Firehall Centre lacked.
“I think this is a fantastic addition to the Social Heart,” Coun. Sylvia Bishop said. “Something theatre groups often lack is props and costume storage space, and that has been accomplished here, as well as a green room and the ability to provide music lessons.”
Construction is expected to take 57 weeks to “reach substantial completion,” Delta’s director of parks, recreation and culture, Ken Kuntz, told council.
Kuntz said the new facility will be open to all the same groups and events that the Firehall was. But whereas the old centre saw about 1,100 hours of use per year, Kuntz said he expects the new one will offer more than tripling the capacity for programming, and that’s just in its first year of operation.
“We hope that we will easily be able to achieve 3,500 hours of use in the first year of operation, and then increase it over the next couple of years,” he said. “So I’m hoping that we have about 5,000 hours of use in this building, when you combine all the rooms and all the spaces, by the time we’re into year two or three of the operation.”
Maple Leaf homes provided council with a fixed price of $7,335,000 for construction of the arts centre. The cost includes theatre equipment, lighting and audio-visual apparatus.
In addition, there’s an allowance of $925,000 to cover Metro Vancouver development cost charges, hydro services, utility connections, furnishings and equipment, insurance during the construction period and site supervision by Delta’s architect, bring the total cost of the project to $8.5 million.
Partial funding for the project came from the sale of a portion of the Firehall Centre property to Maple Leaf Homes for inclusion in its Delta Gardens development, two multi-family residential apartment buildings ranging in height from four- to six-storeys and two three-storey townhouse buildings.
The sale of the property brought in $4.4 million dollars. Maple Leaf provided an additional $1.05 million in the way of a community amenity contribution.
The net cost to Delta is just over $3 million, to be spread over the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years ($1 million and $2.05 million respectively).