City to take ownership of Paul Martin building to temporarily house downtown library
The City of Windsor is purchasing the historic Paul Martin building and it will be the new home of the central branch of Windsor Public Library.
CTV News has learned the city is purchasing the building from the federal government for $1 and the library will move into the landmark location on a temporary basis.
“The Windsor Public Library is thrilled to be moving into that iconic, beautiful Paul Martin building," says Library CEO Kitty Pope.
Pope also tells CTV Windsor the location is prime because it’s along bus and bike routes, and very close to both the University of Windsor and St. Clair College downtown campuses.
Mayor Drew Dilkens tells CTV Windsor the city jumped at the opportunity when a deal fell through to move the University of Windsor law school into the building.
“There is a lot of potential in front of us, and I know there's a lot of folks who have expressed interest in the Paul Martin building,” says Dilkens. “(They) will now have the opportunity to go after some of the potential that we know exists in this current economic climate."
A news conference to announce the purchase and the move of the library into the iconic downtown building will be held Wednesday morning.
The central branch is currently located at 850 Ouellette Ave. but the building was sold to the Downtown Mission last year for $3.6 million. The Mission will take possession of the building on June 28, and plans to complete the move by June 2020.
Initially, the plan was for the library to move into the new city hall as its temporary home, but that has now changed and the library will move into the Paul Martin building on a temporary basis, for at least three years, if not longer, according to Dilkens.
The city will spend $1.5 million and eight months to renovate the annex space at the back of the Paul Martin building to accommodate the library.
“Inside, it's in pretty good shape,” says Dilkens. “We don't anticipate any major capital renovations to the Paul Martin building in the short term.”
It is anticipated the central branch will be in the Paul Martin Building for five to seven years. Library officials hope to open in the new location by December or January 2020.
That means at least five months without a central branch, but Pope tells CTV Windsor they have made accommodations for the interruption in service.
“We'll have FRED our bookmobile providing service. We will have computers in a small pop up library right in city hall on the main floor, and we'll be doing lots of events particularly in the community particularly in the downtown area,” says Pope.
The six-storey Paul Martin building was first completed in 1934. The building’s façade became damaged and the federal government restored the building, with work finishing in 2017.
Last year, the city had asked the provincial government for $20 million to renovate the building to allow for the move of the University of Windsor's law school.
But school officials decided to back away from the agreement because of the cost to renovate the building without provincial funding.