Following Greater Sudbury city council’s decision last month to delay the Junction East Cultural Hub, representatives of the Art Gallery of Sudbury say they’re “disappointed” by the turn of events.
The project was put on hold Feb. 21, with the $98.5-million building slated to be replaced by a smaller build limited to $65 million. This, following a motion by Mayor Paul Lefebvre.
The Junction East Cultural Hub is a long-talked-about library/art gallery project whose most recent incarnation was projected to be a 104,000-square-foot building designed by Toronto-based WZMH Architects and built next to the Sudbury Theatre Centre downtown.
The city has been directed to continue working with the project’s partners, including the Greater Sudbury Public Library, Sudbury Multicultural Folk Arts Association and Art Gallery of Sudbury, to look at other options to pare its total cost down to $65 million.
The intent, Lefebvre said, is to maintain the project’s original goals but shrink a new build down to approximately 65,000 square feet. Existing infrastructure might also be reconfigured.
The Art Gallery of Sudbury, one of the organizations that would have moved into Junction East, currently occupies the historic Bell Mansion building.
However, AGS is only able to occupy that building until May 30, 2025. That’s under the terms of a 2022 legal agreement regarding the Bell Mansion building reached with Laurentian University as part of its insolvency restructuring.
Sudbury.com reached out to the Art Gallery of Sudbury for an interview regarding the Junction East project delay, but instead received a brief written statement, signed by AGS board chair Paula Gouveia and AGS director Demetra Christakos.
“While we are disappointed by the delay, the gallery remains open to working with the City of Greater Sudbury towards a viable co-location project,” reads the AGS statement.
“As we await the results of the review, the Gallery Board and staff remain committed to our goal of building a Category A public art museum here in Greater Sudbury.”
Greg Oldenburg, owner of the former Northern Breweries building on Lorne Street, issued a press release last week, saying that the building could become the new home of the Art Gallery of Sudbury.
Oldenburg has been the proponent for the Brewer Lofts condominium project that’s long been proposed for the site.
The Art Gallery of Sudbury said it has no comment on Oldenburg’s proposal “except to clarify that the gallery was not consulted prior to the submission of the document to mayor and council.”
Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.