(Written on October 25, 2015)
By Fadila Chater
After a six-month collaboration, the 1588 Barrington Building Preservation Society has come up with a hefty proposal for Halifax council in maintaining the historic Khyber building.
The 127-year-old Khyber building contains asbestos and lead. Municipal staff recommended disposing off the building, but last year council voted to keep it. Council later gave the coalition six months to come up with a proposal to fix the building.
The 1588 society is a coalition of the Khyber Centre for the Arts Society, the Friends of the Khyber advocate group, the Neptune Theatre Society and musician Joel Plaskett.
Robin Metcalfe, director of Saint Mary’s University art gallery and president of the 1588 Society, is confident that the proposal will satisfy council.
“I think we have produced a very strong proposal. It’s very thoroughly researched with all the appropriate expertise,” said Metcalfe.
Halifax architect company, G.F. Duffus & Co. Ltd., has worked with the 1588 Society on a model that would increase space and accessibility in the Khyber and preserve the building’s historic characteristics. The proposal includes ramped access and an elevator.
The society has proposed to share building space with Neptune Theatre.
“Neptune, as part of the theatre community, is also aware of the need for more small spaces for independent theatre, and that is one of the things we are addressing in the building. I think they just want to be good neighbours,” Metcalfe said.The proposed plan costs less than the estimated $4 million that HRM had calculated six months earlier.
“We have been very thorough in our costing. We have also been conservative in estimating our revenues and have given some leeway in estimating our costs,” said Metcalfe.
The society is now looking for commercial establishments that would complement the activities of the building and would also bring in revenue.
The proposal has been received by city councillors and could take months to be completely assessed.