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saying goodbye to the garneau theatre we know?

We received our demolition notice … on Christmas Eve. The owner of the building will be demolishing the front half of the Garneau Theatre after July 1, 2009.

I was a little shocked to read an email forwarded to me by a reader this afternoon. As a resident of the Garneau neighbourhood, I am disappointed to learn that the owner of the building has decided to change the face of this historic Edmonton landmark. In July 2007, Edmonton lawyer John Day purchased the building, and at the time was quoted saying “I will consult with the community” before planning any major renovations to the historic block. According to a 2008 article, the lease for the movie theatre was set to expire in 2009.

In November 2007, the popular Garneau restaurants the Sugar Bowl and High Level Dinner, avoided demolition when owner Patrick Turner sold the building to its current tenants. Turner had been offered truckloads of cash a developer who wanted to demolish the historic block and build condominium building, but decided to save the historic building instead.

Perhaps there are structural reasons for the demolition, or perhaps it will just be a well-intentioned face lift for the historic building, but it will be a loss for Edmonton if the demolition results in irreparable damage to a unique building that has helped shape the quirky character of the Garneau area for decades.

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