Hillcrest High School building to be converted to housing

CBC News has learned a developer plans to transform Thunder Bay's former Hillcrest High School into a housing complex.

Tenants will have to move, but developer says he'll honour leases and accommodate their needs

Some of the current tenants at Thunder Bay's Centre for Change will need to find new homes of their own as the building is renovated to become a housing complex. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

CBC News has learned a developer plans to transform Thunder Bay's former Hillcrest High School into a housing complex.

The new co-owner of Hillcrest — now called the Centre of Change — said he doesn't know yet whether the suites will be condos or apartments. 

SharanSohi said he should have more details in about a month, after further consultations with the city. 

Sohi said he'll honour the leases for current tenants and accommodate their needs as long as possible during renovations.  

“Sometimes you say, ‘how bout we give you this location,’ because working within that zone ... [the] noise level might be too heavy … but we work with the tenants.”

Sohi said less than half the space is rented, so construction crews can start working on empty parts of the building.

He noted the conversion to housing units will preserve the historic character of the building.

"We are looking at anywhere from 900 to 1,600 square feet [per unit]— and [for] some of the front condos or front apartments, there will be lake views, and that will be a very beautiful area to look at,” Sohi said.

"The city wanted us to keep a lot of heritage the way it is, which we will," he said.  "If you come into the school itself, it's beautiful inside.  It's very well built.  It's a very nice building."

Sohi said the first units could be complete six months from now.

The full renovation is expected to take two to three years.

In the meantime, current tenants will gradually have to move out to make way for the renovations.

One of the tenants is Ohm Base, a community workshop for people interested in computers and electronics.  

Ohm Base member Alieah Brown said she has mixed feelings about the coming transformation.

“I guess it's great if people can benefit in the community from it being sold, but it kind of sucks because it gets rid of clubs like this," she said. "Where will we go next?"

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