February 28th, 2024

City evaluates interest in Monarch Theatre

By MEDICINE HAT NEWS on January 25, 2023.

The city is looking at proposals for purchase of the Monarch Theatre, and officials say negotiations could commence in the near term.--NEWS FILE PHOTO

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City officials are now evaluating proposals for the Monarch Theatre and could move to negotiations soon, council members heard Monday.

“It looks very encouraging that we’ll be able to find a future operator for that space, and likely an owner,” public services managing director Brian Mastel told a committee in a general update.

The previous owner, the City Centre Development Agency, sold it to the city in the summer of 2020 rather than leave its assets to be disposed of by the province when the business improvement district was disbanded by stakeholders.

That covered a $60,000 portion of an unpaid loan the group secured with the city, and the remaining $145,000 was donated to provide ongoing business improvement grants.

Meanwhile, council told city hall administrators a community group or private sector buyer should be found to keep the event and movie space active in the downtown without adding to municipal operations.

“Assuming we’re able to achieve those things set out by council,” said Mastel, “the evaluation could make a recommendation … and administration could (approve an agreement).”

The city had requested expressions of interest from potential buyers and tenants in early 2022, and was in contact with eight unnamed parties before entering negotiations with one.

Those talks stalled last fall however, and the new, more advanced request for proposals resulted in three qualified submissions at the deadline earlier this month.

“Three excellent proposals is encouraging, and a couple really good ones to look through,” said Mastel. “We’re working through the evaluation and we’ll update as needed.”

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