A proposal to turn Windsor's empty armouries into a $30-million cultural hub needs partners and its backers unveiled their vision Monday, hoping to attract support.
The Armouries/Palace Redevelopment Committee has already approached the University of Windsor, St. Clair College and the city to help develop the location at Ouellette and University avenues.
"Not in a formal way, not in a public meeting, but just sharing our reports with them, and our analysis of them," committee co-chair Paul Mullins said at a news conference Monday. "(We're) inviting them to consider it and see if there's any way it could meet some of their own needs."
The proposal would see the armouries converted into a 1,150-seat concert hall with a glass atrium connecting it to the Palace Theatre. It would include a four-screen multiplex theatre and an outdoor-indoor performance stage.
John Morris Russell, music director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, supports the proposal and says the benefits would go beyond the artistic community.
"We want to be able to create a home, an infrastructure, for our cultural and international communities and arts communities to thrive. And not just thriving for their own good, but thriving means we can create greater business opportunities," he said.
The plan's backers say the armouries location at the exit of the Detroit-Windsor tunnel means it would also serve as a Windsor landmark for the millions who drive through the tunnel each year.
Councillor Percy Hatfield, chair of the city's armouries re-use committee, agreed the plan is the most exciting and creative idea put forward for the armouries, but that it's still unclear whether it can work.
"I don't believe the taxpayers of Windsor want to pay the $30 or $40 million to make this happen," he said. "So the money for this has to come from the federal government, the provincial government and private donors and sponsors. We just don't have the money as a city council to pay for it."