In March 2018, the Port Hope Heritage Foundation, the local chapter of the Architectural Conservancy Ontario, hired NetGain to conduct a feasibility study for the restoration of the Port Hope Opera House building. The objectives of the study are to identify potential users and uses of the that addresses community needs.
Formerly occupied by the Royal Bank of Canada, the Opera House is located on one of Ontario’s finest, intact, 19th century streetscapes in a designated a Heritage Conservation District. The Opera House was built in 1871 as a concert hall and performance space, which was altered considerably after a fire and years later served as a movie theatre. Currently, the Opera House is in poor condition, requiring upgrades to meet building code requirements.
NetGain’s approach to the study is strategic in that heritage or cultural assets each have unique features that give them an advantage over others for specific uses and tenants. The central question is, “which potential use or uses of the building offers the greatest assurance of long term occupancy, balanced with community benefit, and financial viability?” The answer to this question naturally includes verified assumptions about related factors such as architectural feasibility, capital requirements, ownership, management, and mandate.
In addition to heritage equity and architectural features, we consider location, community perceptions, and current and future market demand. The challenge is to find the optimal match between the building and its future use, providing a sense of assurance that a combination of tenancy and occasional programs or events will achieve sufficiently high levels of utilization and financial self-sufficiency. Another way of stating this outcome is that our approach seeks to ensure that realistically estimated capital and operating expenditures will reliably result in a high value heritage asset for the community.
To date, we have consulted with roughly 70 individuals, including representatives from all three levels of governments and every local stakeholder group. A report is due in June, 2018.