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At last! A reincarnation for the beloved Empress Theatre

9 mars 2020

A community-focused project via a partnership with the Société d'habitation et de développement de Montréal (SHDM) will breathe new life into the abandoned building

Montréal, le 9 mars 2020 - The borough of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (CDN-NDG) will work with the Société d'habitation et de développement de Montréal (SHDM) to transform the Empress Theatre. This project will allow the Empress to once again be a community gathering space and will give borough residents access to a cultural venue as well as affordable housing.

The revitalisation project is aimed at renovating the building for mixed use, including:

●      A cultural component, including a multipurpose hall for community activities

●      A residential component for affordable housing

●      A commercial component focusing on artistic expression

At the Borough Council meeting on March 11, a $250,000 grant will be given to the SHDM to allow it to generate several complete proposals for the creation of a new Empress. The final choice will depend on results of architectural and engineering studies. These proposals may include the partial or complete demolition of the building.

The right partner

The SHDM, the borough's credible, serious partner, has a proven track record for carrying out innovative projects. “From the moment I was elected in 2017, I started working to find a strong partner to deliver the new Empress Theatre. Thanks to the expertise it has gained through developing complex real estate projects, the SHDM is the perfect fit,” says Sue Montgomery, Mayor of the borough of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. Furthermore, this partnership will commemorate the memory of the Empress, a cultural beacon in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

The SHDM is a nonprofit paramunicipal organization with expertise in creating high-quality affordable housing while emphasizing cultural development. “Mixed-use projects are already a major part of our activities. Our organization has a solid track record when it comes to working as a member of a partnership, and relationships based on trust and communication are a key element in the success of our projects,” says Nancy Shoiry, managing director of the SHDM.

In addition to including affordable housing in the project, the soul of this symbolic building will be preserved through the creation of a cultural venue. The new Empress theatre will enhance the neighbourhood's already lively cultural scene and make it an important gathering place for the community.

The Empress Theatre, located on Sherbrooke West across from Parc Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, has been inaccessible to residents for decades. “NDG residents have been waiting a long time for the Empress Theatre's rejuvenation,” says Borough Mayor Sue Montgomery. “Today, the interminable intermission is over! We are taking action to give the neighbourhood back this hub for community gatherings and cultural activities, while adding a component dedicated to housing. This is a project that will inject a healthy dose of sparkle to Sherbrooke West in NDG and, in turn, help surrounding businesses thrive.” The Mayor acknowledges all  the hard work of the many community organizations and residents who have had initiatives to bring back the Empress over the years.

The borough wants to ensure that the cultural spaces in the new Empress will meet residents' needs. It encourages residents to get involved from the very beginning of the project so that the end result will reflect the wishes of the neighbourhood. For that reason, citizen consultation sessions will be held during the month of April 2020 with public participation sessions April 28 and 29.

Remember that the Empress Theatre, located at the corner of Sherbrooke and Old Orchard in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (CDN-NDG), was built in 1927 and, over the years, functioned as a theatre offering a variety of activities, including burlesque, dinner theatre, and repertory cinema. In 1992, it was damaged by a major fire. The Ville de Montréal bought it from Standard Life in 1999, and the borough of CDN-NDG became its owner in 2011.

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