While renovations for the Myer Horowitz Theatre were estimated at $11 million in the summer, new projections are now as high as $14 million.
The Students’ Union is currently researching the feasibility of updating the Horowitz with an expanded lobby, new seats, and terrace. SU general manager Marc Dumouchel told Students’ Council on January 24 that the Horowitz has “fallen victim to deferred maintenance” and needs to be upgraded to fulfill its mission.
“(The theatre renovation) is a cornerstone of a larger strategy to try to bring life back to campus by creating a home for events,” he said.
While Dumouchel initially planned to finance the project solely through donors when the project was announced in August, he later discovered the need for a more realistic funding plan. Now he anticipates a third of the funding coming from donors, a third from grants, and a third from students.
Dumouchel added that there are concerns that the price of the renovation is “coming in a little high.”
“I want to be very clear, I think that price is absurd, I really do,” he said. “At the end of day the price is what it is, we hope to go to market at a time where it’s more competitive so we get better bids.”
The Students’ Union is currently running a feasibility study to determine donor interest for the project. If they are unable to raise enough money from donors and grants the scale of the renovation would be reconsidered, but Dumouchel told councillors that the theatre’s maintenance can’t be ignored.
“If this university wants to be a first-rate university, it needs a place like a renovated theatre to do things like the President’s State of the University Address and major alumni events,” Dumouchel said.
Schematic designs for the Horowitz are now complete, and propose upgrading technical systems, renovating the auditorium, and increasing the size of the lobby by 20 to 25 feet. Along with the proposed schematics is a project to build a kitchen for L’Express catering and an elevator behind the theatre — this addition is not included in the anticipated $14 million price tag.
Concerns have previously been raised at council regarding whether student groups would still be able to afford to rent out the Horowitz post-renovation. While the SU has yet to investigate student group accessibility, Vice-President (Operations and Finance) Robyn Paches plans to re-examine theatre policies and consult with student groups after completion of the project’s feasibility study in March.
“We will be redoing the policies top to bottom and making sure they’re accessible to student groups,” he said.
The schematic designs for the Myer Horowitz will be taken to Facilities Development Committee in the February or March meeting for approval. If they are approved, Students’ Council will vote on whether to move onto the design development phase, which will produce refined schematics by April or May. After that, contract documents will be drawn up and the project will be paused to ensure financing for construction is in place.
“The Myer Horowitz Theatre is really a one of a kind place on campus,” Dumouchel said. “It’s the number one place where people who’ve never had an experience with the university get to come to campus and become part of our community.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Myer Horowitz renovation project was announced in July. This has since been changed to August.