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  #1  
Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 11:10 AM
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Tivoli Theatre | ? | 22 fl | Planning

Ballet head sees Tivoli rising again

August 11, 2008
Wade Hemsworth
The Hamilton Spectator

Four years after the front of the Tivoli Theatre complex began to collapse, the leader of a local ballet company remains confident about plans to bring it back to life.

"It is on track. I feel much better now than I did a year and a half ago," said Belma Diamante, president of the Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble, which acquired it for $1 in 2006. "The Tivoli will be restored, I can tell you very confidently."

A leading expert in the field of historic theatre restoration who has been studying the project not only believes the Tivoli can come back, but that it should.

"I think it's a very handsome theatre, and well worth the effort to preserve it," said Janis Barlow, whose Toronto firm specializes in bringing old theatres back to life.

"Historic movie palaces are where art and heritage intersect, and both are critical to your identity as a community."

Barlow has been working with the ballet company since last fall. She is charting a course -- commercial, architectural and creative -- to help a revitalized Tivoli find a new place in the blossoming arts district of James Street North.

Last month, the Toronto firm won the League of Historic American Theatre's 2008 Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution.

Barlow was project manager on the $30-million restoration of the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, Canada's largest heritage theatre restoration.

She says the Tivoli -- with elements dating as far back as 1875 -- can be saved with the right plan and the right funding, and that it can serve a vital purpose in Hamilton and in its neighbourhood.

"There's nothing that turns a can't-do community into a can-do community faster than reviving something that's important to you. It makes you feel like you can remake yourself -- that you can save what's important and be proud of it."

As is typical of movie houses of its era, she explained the Tivoli's stage is too shallow to permit full productions of classical ballets.

Instead, she thinks the auditorium is better suited to smaller dance productions and to musical and theatre performances.

Barlow's Toronto-based company is developing three options for the Tivoli, including:

* A multiuse residential, commercial and theatre complex on the current site.

* A multiuse complex built in combination with a neighbouring property.

* A standalone entertainment complex with a main auditorium of 600 to 700 seats and a smaller, studio theatre with 100 to 200 seats for rehearsals and small shows.

The third option appears the most viable, mainly because it is simpler, especially in light of zoning restrictions, Barlow said.

It's too early to estimate the cost of any of the options, she said.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 12:37 PM
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"There's nothing that turns a can't-do community into a can-do community faster than reviving something that's important to you. It makes you feel like you can remake yourself -- that you can save what's important and be proud of it."
Wow. Perfectly said!!

Should also apply this theory to Lister.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 1:17 PM
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I really hope they repair the Tivoli, it would be a great addition to the cultural amenities of James St North.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 1:39 PM
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It's benign state of neglect (a turn of phrase I have way too many opportunities to use) is a complete disgrace. No sooner had Famous Players shut it and Sam Sniderman bought it, than the downward spiral began. Somewhere I still have a CHCH TV report of Sniderman talking about his restoration plans--we all know where those ended up. The city lost the absolute masterpieces that were the Loews/Capitol and Pantages/Palace, and the Lyric/Century was adulterated heavily before it was abandoned--it seems the city (collectively) had this one opportunity to do something right with the Tivoli and completely dropped the ball. Sorry--not trying to be a squelcher--I think any revival plan is great--it's just a shame we ever got to this point in the first place.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 1:48 PM
raisethehammer raisethehammer is offline
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yep, it is a shame.
Hopefully these guys can pull it off and fix it up.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 3:57 PM
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glad to hear this project hasn't been forgotten. it would be great if the tiv's adjacent properties could be rehabbed as well...that stripmall and parkette are 'narsty.'
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 5:07 PM
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glad to hear this project hasn't been forgotten. it would be great if the tiv's adjacent properties could be rehabbed as well...that stripmall and parkette are 'narsty.'

That calamity at James and Wilson needs to be levelled. No two ways about that one.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 5:21 PM
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leveled but with the tenants offered space in a new building.
I hate strip malls, but the food offerings in that one are incredible!
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 7:59 PM
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I remember being absolutely dumbfounded when that plaza went up--and I was a kid--it's among the most out-of-place buildings in the entire downtown. If the food offerings are that good, maybe it has potential. Seems to me when it was built it was "anchored" by one of those poseur donut chains that popped up in the 80s--Mr. C's or something.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 8:02 PM
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I'd love to see the strip mall whacked to hell as a violation of the bylaw, minimum of 2 storey for the downtown core.
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  #11  
Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 8:02 PM
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yea, the donut place is still there....donuts and beer. doesn't get more Hamilton than that.
There's a middle eastern place that is to die for. They make their own baklava on site.
A new AYCE sushi/dim sum place just opened at the Hughson end of the plaza. It's amazing.
but yea, what a stupid looking building and waste of prime space downtown.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 8:09 PM
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I remember being absolutely dumbfounded when that plaza went up--and I was a kid--it's among the most out-of-place buildings in the entire downtown. If the food offerings are that good, maybe it has potential. Seems to me when it was built it was "anchored" by one of those poseur donut chains that popped up in the 80s--Mr. C's or something.
Do you remember what used to be there, by any chance?

The ideal situation would be if the land was bought by a speculator who also owned large buildings in the area and something was built as part of a larger renovation. Empty storefronts in the immediate area could provide temporary space for the plaza's current tenants and provide revenue while the project is under construction. The Tivoli plans being solidified could be the kick-start needed to make this sort of project a solid business case.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 8:39 PM
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But what about the parking?? Dear God, won't anyone think of the parking???
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 8:39 PM
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Do you remember what used to be there, by any chance?
From what i understand, the Grand Opera House stood on the site from 1880 - 1961, then it apparently became a parking lot for while. (sounds about right)
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2008, 8:41 PM
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I know the CBYE got the Tivoli for a song, but I wonder if this a good fit for the ballet company. The consultant seems to hint at this when she says the Tivoli stage is not suitable for classical ballet productions because it is such a shallow stage. She does recognize it as more suitable for smaller dance productions and musical theatre.

I wonder if anyone is working on a collaborative arrangement with CBYE and Opera Hamilton to have them as co-tenants in a restored Tivoli. They seem like a logical pairing. Whenever CBYE has full-scale productions (like their annual Nutcracker Suite), they could still use Hamilton Place.
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Old Posted Aug 12, 2008, 3:44 AM
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Perhaps the same people that book Hamilton Place could use it for smaller concerts
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Old Posted Aug 12, 2008, 4:27 AM
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Originally Posted by astroblaster View Post
From what i understand, the Grand Opera House stood on the site from 1880 - 1961, then it apparently became a parking lot for while. (sounds about right)
Someone else will have a better memory than me, but it was a pub called the "Coach House" or something. But yeah, I remember thinking as a kid, without an inkling that I'd develop an interest in urban affairs later on, that that strip mall was completely out of place downtown. Even at that tender age I remember being offended by it.
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  #18  
Old Posted Aug 12, 2008, 1:05 PM
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Originally Posted by markbarbera View Post
I know the CBYE got the Tivoli for a song, but I wonder if this a good fit for the ballet company. The consultant seems to hint at this when she says the Tivoli stage is not suitable for classical ballet productions because it is such a shallow stage. She does recognize it as more suitable for smaller dance productions and musical theatre.

I wonder if anyone is working on a collaborative arrangement with CBYE and Opera Hamilton to have them as co-tenants in a restored Tivoli. They seem like a logical pairing. Whenever CBYE has full-scale productions (like their annual Nutcracker Suite), they could still use Hamilton Place.
I was wondering pretty much the same thing. It's a vaudeville-scale theatre. Seems like they've got a performance space that's good for limited rehearsal at best. They must've been aware of this limitation before they took on this project, though. Or maybe the bargain price made it worthwhile to them even if the theatre remained dark most of the year.

Topical exhibit...

TIVOLI FORGOTTEN
An undercover look at the decaying Tivoli Theater, another “Demolition by Neglect” project by the city of Hamilton and absentee landlords.
Photographs by James Chambers
Sept 6 – Oct 18 / Opening Reception Sept 6 7-10pm
J.W. Bush Gallery / 459 Main St. W., Hamilton
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Old Posted Aug 12, 2008, 1:20 PM
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I'd like to see that strip plaza knocked down, city could help the current tenants find a new place (perhaps some competition), and create a new urban park like you see in Montreal and Ottawa St urban plaza, with art and perhaps a fountain with a giant paintbrush. Make it tripy like Alice in Wonderland. Make it a gateway to James St North art district. Allow artist to chalk up the urban plaza, etc on weekends. You see stuff like this in Ottawa and Toronto.

It be a great place for the Makers' Market and a meet up place for the Art Crawl event.
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Old Posted Jul 2, 2009, 9:27 PM
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The Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble is requesting funding from the Heritage Property Grant Program to cover 25% of the estimated cost of the stabilization work of $313,000 therefore $78,250.

http://www.myhamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyre...06PED09197.pdf
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