The Cultural Hub at Tom Davies Square is slated to carry a total budget of $68.8 million and open by the end of 2026.
That is, pending city council approval, with their next decision point scheduled for their Nov. 28 meeting. The proposed budget exceeds city council direction to limit the project to $65 million.
In a report tabled this week, city senior project manager facilities/large capital Nick Zinger outlined the latest information on the long-discussed central library/Art Gallery of Sudbury.
The project would take shape at city hall, and most municipal operations would shift to 199 Larch St., which the city owns.
“The library/art gallery/multicultural facility transforms an already iconic public building and sparks a revitalization of Greater Sudbury’s historic downtown by reimagining the civic centre building into approximately 86,000 square feet of iconic architecture,” according to Zinger’s report.
This square footage is shy of the 104,000-square-foot incarnation of the project previous city council approved in 2022, and the new city council elected on Oct. 24, 2022, quashed in an effort to pare down its $98.5-million budget.
City administrators investigated other options for the project than a new build on the Sudbury Theatre Centre parking lot, and settled on Tom Davies Square in July.
In the project’s new 86,000-square-foot plan at Tom Davies Square, the Art Gallery of Sudbury would take up 30,000 square feet, the Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association would consume 2,000 square feet and the main branch of the Greater Sudbury Public Library includes 54,000 square feet.
“This transformation contributes to maximizing the use of unique existing facility features that include a massive outdoor courtyard, two second-storey terraces and a magnificent atrium, and makes full use of available space in the entire TDS complex,” according to Zinger’s report.
“Bringing these services together in one location reduces the capital and operating costs originally anticipated for this project.”
The budget includes:
- $32.9 million for the construction of a cultural hub at Tom Davies Square, including a project contingency budget of $13.2 million
- $14 million to relocate municipal services and office consolidation
- $7.5 million in other project costs, including administration
- $1.2 million for the municipal portion of HST costs
The Cultural Hub at Tom Davies Square is proposed to be funded by:
- $3.1 million from cultural hub partners
- $24.9 million from potential external funding
- Up to $40.8 million in municipal funds, using debt already secured for the project
The greatest question mark comes from “potential external funding,” which would include senior levels of government which Zinger’s report notes staff have been targeting for their advocacy.
“Meetings with funding program staff have been positive, and staff will continue to pursue these opportunities to realize as much external support as possible to reduce the portion funded by the City,” according to the report.
In the event non-municipal funds are less than anticipated, additional municipal funds would be provided to an upset limit of $64.5 million.
The city has already secured debt funding of $68 million for the project, as previously earmarked for its past versions and a since-cancelled Junction West conference centre project.
At the latest update in September, the city had already spent or committed to spending approximately $5 million, leaving $64.7 million in the project’s existing budget.
Through ongoing work with project partners to determine needs and loading requirements, Zinger notes, “there is confidence the project can be successful, particularly related to the library and its stacking requirements.”
Those municipal services slated to relocate to 100 Larch St. would occupy the “upper floors,” according to Zinger’s report, which would include “technology upgrades to promote a hybrid and collaborative work environment to realize space efficiencies and facilitate optimal service delivery.”
Earlier this month, Greater Sudbury Public Library CEO/chief librarian Brian Harding told Sudbury.com that Tom Davies Square appeared to be “a good fit,” while Art Gallery of Sudbury curator/director Demetra Christakos said they’re not ready to comment too in-depth.
On Aug. 2, they learned the spaces provided for the gallery at Tom Davies Square were in the 199 Larch St. building, and not 200 Brady St., where the library will be located.
“Since then, we have been working with city staff on the fit and feasibility of that proposal for the Art Gallery of Sudbury,” she said by emailed correspondence earlier this month. “We still have some work to do before we can provide further feedback.”
Although some financial details are included in Zinger’s report, much of the plan remains broad in scope at this stage, including such matters as parking. The city is expected to bring updates and recommendations to city council during their next project update.
Zinger’s report will be presented to Greater Sudbury city council on Nov. 28 during a meeting whose open session begins at 6 p.m. The meeting can be viewed in council chambers at Tom Davies Square, or live streamed by clicking here.
If city council approves the project’s next steps, a request for proposal will be issued by the end of the year and awarded by March 2024, with a schematic design to begin during the second quarter of 2024.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.