The Fredericton Playhouse probably won't be refurbished or replaced for at least three years, according to the assistant city administrator.

Murray Jamer says the city is not prepared to consider an expense of that magnitude at this time.

"According to the city’s long-term plan, an expenditure like that would probably be three to five years down the road," he said.

"And even then it would have to compete with the various other priorities that might be on the table at that time."

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Murray Jamer, assistant city administrator, says the City and Playhouse board will undertake a feasibility study. (City of Fredericton)

Jamer said he expects a new theatre would also require funding partners, such as the other levels of government, as well as charitable donations.

On Tuesday, the city issued a statement saying it would save more money by replacing the 50-year-old  theatre than upgrading the 50-year-old building.

A report by R.V. Anderson and Associates found it would cost $16.1 million to build a new 24,000-square-foot facility, slightly more than the $12.3-million capital cost associated with a refurbishment, said Jamer.

But the real savings of a new building would be in the operating and maintenance costs over a 50-year period, he said.

The engineering report found it would cost a total of $30.1 million, about $4.59 million less than an upgrade to the existing building.

Jamer says the old building has some mechanical and electrical system problems — "the things that you don't see behind the scenes."

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Replacing the Fredericton Playhouse would cost about $4.6 million less than refurbishing the existing building over a 50-year period, a report found. (CBC)

It's also has very high energy costs and is expensive to maintain, he said, likening it to owning an old car.

"You can maintain it for a while, but there comes a point where you either get a new car, or you put some serious dollars into the old car," he said.

The City and Playhouse board will be conducting a joint feasibility study to determine how a performing arts centre fits in with the city's other priorities and what the community wants or needs in such a centre, said Jamer.

The study would also explore whether a new theatre would be built in the same location and what would happen to performers who currently use the theatre during any renovations or construction, he said.

It's "all about gathering information so that when it comes time to make those big decisions, when it comes time to discuss those priorities, the decision makers will just have the best information possible."

Meanwhile, the Playhouse can continue to operate as is, said Jamer.