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City pledges $89.5K to help create downtown events venue

The city’s elected officials have approved $89,489 in grants toward the renovation of the historic Knox Presbyterian Church into Knox Hall, a downtown events venue
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Sudbury entrepreneurs Dan Guillemette and Liana Bacon are seen outside of the former Knox Presbyterian Church building at 73 Larch Street, which they purchased last year.

With another $30,000 in grants approved this week, the city has pledged $89,489 to help Dan Guillemette and Liana Bacon create the Knox Hall events venue in downtown Sudbury.

Last October, the initial round of $59,454 in Community Improvement Plan (CIP) grants were approved, which was chased shortly after by the venue’s grand opening.

Although extensive renovations had taken place to that time, owners Dan Guillemette and Liana Bacon clarified that it was a soft opening, with more work to come.

The additional $30,035.37 in municipal grants will go toward the building’s second phase, whose total cost is estimated at $609,240.64, making a public/private funding ratio of approximately 1:19.

“Every little bit helps, and it’s not every municipality that has CIPs, so it’s a good way to help the private sector get off the ground,” Guillemette told Sudbury.com after receiving word their latest application had been approved.

“It’ll be an all-new place.”

Later this month, they’re installing a new fire alarm system to increase their occupancy load, and next month they are having the building’s pews removed to install auditorium seating.

There’s no sense trying to purchase the wooden pews, though, because Guillemette said they’ve all been called for.

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Entrepreneurs Liana Bacon and Dan Guillemette are seen in the old Knox Presbyterian church building at 73 Larch St., which they purchased last year and renovated into an events venue called Knox Hall. They completed Phase 1 of the project and have received city funding to help with Phase 2. Tyler Clarke/Sudbury.com

The auditorium seating will be more comfortable than wooden pews, and Guillemette said the new carpets will help not only cosmetically, but also in improving sound quality.

The planning committee was near-unanimous in this week’s decision to approve the second round of funding, with only Ward 4 Coun. Pauline Fortin voting against it. Earlier in the meeting, she noted that more than $89,000 is going toward the building through CIPs, which she argued is too great a portion of the program’s $250,000 annual budget to go toward a single building. 

Guillemette and Bacon’s applications came in two rounds, with last year’s representing the landlord and this week’s on behalf of the tenant.

“They’re both us, but two different corporations for liability purposes,” Guillemette explained to Sudbury.com.

Both applications hit the maximum-allotted amounts.

The municipal grants included within the $89,489.41 total include such things as a facade improvement grant, a building permit fee rebate, a feasibility study grant and other things.

The city’s CIPs are currently under review, with city council passing a bylaw on Jan. 16 to approve amendments to expand what is defined as “core areas” and introduce tax increment equivalent grants for certain residential builds

With the bylaw approved, a 20-day appeal process has been triggered.

During this week’s planning committee meeting, city senior planner Ed Landry noted the changes should be in place by March.

Knox Hall is located at 73 Larch St. in downtown Sudbury.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.


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Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.
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