PEI

Founders Hall exhibit on Charlottetown waterfront closed permanently

The interpretive exhibit at Founders Hall on the Charlottetown waterfront has closed for good.

Developer has already expressed interest in renting space

In its first year, the attraction drew 25,000 visitors, but Ron Waite said that had dropped to about 7,000 last year. (Pat Martel/CBC)

The Founders Hall interpretive centre on the Charlottetown waterfront has closed for good, and the operator is hoping for new tenants to take over the space.

The $4-million attraction opened in 2001 and told the story of Confederation, starting with the Charlottetown Conference in 1864.

But the exhibit — which took up most of the ground floor of the renovated two storey building — will not reopen this summer.

"It's a beautiful facility," said Ron Waite, general manager of the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation, which owns the building.

The decline in visitors is blamed on outdated displays that just didn't cut it in the digital age. (Pat Martel/CBC)

"Obviously, we're reluctant to close it as a tourist attraction but if you're not getting the numbers and you're losing money on it every year, sooner or later, you have to make the call."

In its first year, the attraction drew 25,000 visitors, but Waite said that had dropped to about 7,000 last year. He blamed the decline on outdated displays that just didn't cut it in the digital age.

"You know if you look at a family audience coming through that the kids would have a different expectation than what their parents might have," he said.

"One would be a history lesson, the other one would be an experience and I don't think we'd qualify as an experience for the younger generation right now."

Waite said the group could revamp the attraction, but cost is factor.

"It would be a significant amount of money to do that and we just don't have the funds. I've been told it's probably a million dollars," he said.

Waite said the Visitor Information Centre has also moved out of the building, but the other current tenants, including a restaurant, are staying.

He said he's also in discussions with a developer who is interested in renting the vacant space, but he can't disclose the developer's name.

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