On July 28th 2021, KESKUS held an interactive community engagement session for all stakeholders. The hour-long virtual session addressed construction status, logistics updates for the move, capital campaign updates, and design features.
The video recording of the session is available on the KESKUS YouTube channel, and here are top 5 takeaways from the July 28 event:
1. Weekly activities at KESKUS, Tenants & Future Events Business
Veiko Parming, President of Toronto Estonian House, gave an update on move logistics from the Estonian House to KESKUS and confirmed that activities in Estonian House on Broadview for the 2021-2022 activity year will be unchanged from prior years (COVID restrictions notwithstanding).
Veiko then addressed the KESKUS business model. The Estonian community and its regular activities remains the lifeblood of the Centre. Affordability for community groups to use space at KESKUS is a top priority. Further, space in KESKUS will be scheduled with an Estonia-first model meaning that priority will be given to Estonian community groups for regular activities.
Commercial tenants and event rentals are expected to pay market rate at KESKUS, which will provide KESKUS with stable revenue and allows community groups to use KESKUS at an affordable/nominal rate.
Once construction is underway, another round of consultation with community groups individually will be undertaken to firm up space, scheduling and storage needs.
2. One-Move Option for Tenants and Community Groups
KESKUS Development Manager David Kalm reported that the project is construction-ready. Critical trades have been awarded and, after some delays exacerbated by COVID, the building permit process is nearly complete. Construction is slated to begin August 2021 and preconstruction is underway, with perimeter fencing now up, and site preparation over the coming weeks.
When Estonian House was sold, a 21-month lease back agreement was entered into so that the community and tenants at the Estonian House would not have to move twice. This leaseback agreement ends at the end of May 2022, and an extension of this would maintain the one-move plan. The KESKUS project is working with the new owner of the Estonian House as the owner’s plans have been subject to delays just like the Madison side of the equation. It may be that the one-move option continues to be possible despite the Madison construction delays. Better information about the final move-out date will be better known later this year.
3. Successful launch of Tere, KESKUS
Liisa Käärid, Board Chair of Estonian Arts Centre, the charity associated with KESKUS, provided an update on the Tere, KESKUS campaign held in June.
The global response to the three-day Tere, KESKUS virtual event exceeded all expectations. The event drew interest from around the globe and more than $2.8 million was donated in support of this visionary project!
From small children sending in their tooth fairy money, to multi-generational families giving large donations, KESKUS is truly appreciative of every donation.
The KESKUS capital campaign has been supported by hundreds of generous individuals whose names (unless donated anonymously) will be published in the fall. If you wish to donate, there is still time! Please visit the KESKUS capital campaign webpage, or contact Donations Manager Taimi Hooper. Please encourage your social networks to also donate!
4. New Possibilities For a New Era
Veiko Parming pointed out that at KESKUS, there is an opportunity to create completely new events and to collaborate like never before.
State-of-the-art technology, a prime location and a bold modern design will create an attractive space for new events and festivals. KESKUS will host pop-ups and design shops, facilitate collaborations with other Estonian organizations as well as with non-Estonian cultural groups or cultural organisations in the City. Of course, it goes without saying that synergies with individuals and groups from Eesti and other Estonian diaspora communities will be encouraged.
5. New Design Features – Send in Your Ideas!
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DIGITAL Estonian Life No. 20 - May 20, 2022