Saint John's Paramount Theatre set for demolition
Published Wednesday, April 11, 2012 5:58PM ADT
A landmark in uptown Saint John is one step closer to the wrecking ball.
Attempts to save the old Paramount Theatre have garnered lots of moral support, but nowhere near the millions of dollars needed to restore the building.
The theatre has sat vacant for seven years, although a spot in front of the building is often occupied by busker Mike Sharpe. Today he offered some suggestions about what could be done with it.
"If it was working and providing a service of some sort, even if it was just a drop-in centre for the homeless," suggests Sharpe.
But others say the 65-year-old building is nothing but an eyesore that needs to be torn down.
"You got a piece of junk standing in the middle of town," says Saint John resident Doug Russell. "You bring tourists here. Your bus stop is here, and your tourists, and they walk by this. This is not Saint John."
It may not accurately reflect the city of Saint John but the crumbling façade stands in the heart of it, across the street from King's Square.
Uptown supporters created a business plan for the building that suggests a multi-use centre in a performing arts district, but they have been unable to receive a firm commitment from any level of government.
"There wasn't anything available," says Peter Asimakos of Uptown Saint John Inc. "At least that's what we were led to believe. You know, we are in the trough of an economic cycle. Bad timing."
But some people say the prospect of another gaping hole in the city's centre would be bad for business.
"It isn't good for the Uptown," says merchant Diana Alexander. "You look around there now, you have the bargain shop that is empty on the top of the street, and several others. We really need refurbishment of that area."
There is no word on when building owner Paul Daeres plans to proceed with the demolition.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron