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Owners pitch Elm Place as the best fit for downtown cultural hub

Sudbury's downtown mall owners say their plan includes ‘everything to complement the library’
An artist's rendering of the Elm Place mall as it would look if it housed the Greater Sudbury Public Library's main branch.

The Elm Place mall is being touted as the perfect home for Sudbury's long-talked-about downtown cultural hub.

Moving the central branch of the library to a new location was part of the city's proposed Junction East project, a downtown cultural hub that would be home to the main branch of the public library, the Art Gallery of Sudbury, and the Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association. 

The original requests for proposals went out in 2017, and Samer Ghazi, vice-president of asset management for Vista Hospitality, said the mall owners have been working to bring the project to the mall, “downtown Sudbury’s largest building,” ever since. 

The project had initially been proposed to be built at a site on Shaughnessy Street, but with the project’s cost rising to $90 million, it was halted. 

In July, a report to council suggested Tom Davies Square could be the new best option for the downtown hub. 

“Our costing is very minimal and the project can start right away,” said Ghazi, noting that construction could begin in a few months and be completed within “a year, maximum.” 

“We have the plans, we have the rendering, we have the designs according to the specs which the library had in 2017.”

With their costing to get the project up and running including a 15 per cent contingency, it still comes in at just under $19 million.

Ghazi said Elm Place also fulfills the need for accessibility for those from all socioeconomic backgrounds, proximity to other tax-paying establishments like restaurants and retail outlets as well as parking for cars, deliveries, school and tour buses, all of which were part of the original site search. 

“There is a great opportunity here, and we want to grab it,” said Ghazi.  

Vista Hospitality also commissioned a third party to conduct a public telephone survey, and in August they polled 500 Sudbury residents.

“Now it's the time to show our strength, why we have the best location for this project,” said Ghazi. “We have been working for the last six months with the city and trying to get their attention to their advantages, and one of them we are right by public transit.” 

He notes the Radisson Hotel, which boasts a pool, and the World Gym, are located on the property, as well as a grocery store, and access to everything the downtown has to offer, including government offices and community services. 

“We have everything to complement the library, and in addition, we have the exact space which they were looking for, since 2017, which is about 48,000 square feet,” said Ghazi. “It's available. It's vacant at the moment. It doesn't cost anything but to renovate and operate.”

Included in the proposal to the city are several design concept options, including the ability to choose either a Notre Dame Avenue or Elm Street main entrance. 

There is also 24/7 security already on site, and the building is compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

Another Sudbury fixture recently made plans to spend the cold season at the mall, with the Sudbury Market set to open the indoor winter market on Oct. 21

“Cost savings for taxpayers, alignment with master plan and centrally located with a flexible design space,” said Ghazi. “It’s the best choice for this project.”

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with