Not-for-profits in final discussions for former MacEwan west campus space

The vivid orange MacEwan West building on 100 Avenue and 156 Street in April 2017. Global News

As many as 27 not-for-profit organizations are in the final discussions with the city to take over space in what used to be the MacEwan west campus.

For now the iconic former campus is being called “the Orange Hub.”

Those with leases still aren’t publicly known, but Councillor Andrew Knack is hoping a space sharing arrangement can be made with what will be an anchor tenant that intends to run a cafeteria as part of its operation.

The food programming division of the Jasper Place Wellness Centre has given the city an eleventh hour proposal, under the banner Food for Good.

“We wouldn’t be operating a cafeteria in the traditional sense, we’d be using the space in as a multi-purpose centre,” said Ashley Thompson. “So we’d continue our current programming offering collective kitchens, cooking workshops, job skills training and community events, but also expanding, offering community meals and a lot of other programs.”

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READ MORE: MacEwan’s Centre for Arts and Culture nearing completion in downtown Edmonton

“If there’s an opportunity for the anchor tenant to work with Food for Good, and we can accomplish this, we should do it,” agreed Knack. “The problem is we didn’t have the information that Food for Good had at the deadline when everyone had to submit their proposals.”

Knack said five types of organisations are among the 27 agencies, however all of their leases aren’t finalized yet, so they can’t be publicly named.

The largest types of potential tenants falls under the category of “learning” which wants nearly 37,000 of the 95,000 square feet.

The second largest type use is considered “wellness.”

There are also groups in the categories of arts and heritage, community development, and recreation and amateur sport looking to lease office space.

“Some will want to come in as soon as possible,” Knack said for when the city opens the doors next month. “Some need to wait a little bit as they’re finishing up existing leases. I think there are going to be some as early as when we take over.”

One problem that has cropped up is 180 parking spaces that generates $100,000 a year in revenue for the centre. Those spaces will eventually disappear because of LRT construction. Knack said work is being done to find alternatives.

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“Would it be rebuilt after the LRT is built in the same location? Do we build it across the street where we have the Jasper Place terminal? I think it’s really too early to say that. And regardless of any of those options there’s still going to need to be a community wide conversation around parking making sure we don’t see a lot of that spill over, of LRT or that space, into the residential neighborhoods.”

As for the moniker for the facility, “The Orange Hub,” if city council doesn’t buy into what ever comes from the attempt to find a title sponsor, the city’s naming committee could stick with what’s in place now.

The city takes over the building next month.