Barron Building / Uptown Theatre news

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Barron Building / Uptown Theatre news

Postby newsposter » Wed Jul 11, 2007 9:30 am

updated August 2013- see bottom posts on last page...

The office portion of the historic Barron Building has been purchased by Platinum Equities. The Uptown Theatre and possibly the Penthouse remain with longtime owner/operater Blake O'Brien. The offices of the Historical Society of Alberta are in the Barron Building. See below for links to more information.

"Entheos Fog" image -

Uptown Stage and Screen:

History of the Barron Building: ... ner/bb.htm ... graphy.htm

Information about the renovation/redevelopment:

Platinum is pleased to launch our latest investment opportunity, the Barron Building, an 11 story historical building in a prime downtown location. The Barron Building, which is known as being “Calgary’s first skyscraper”, will undergo significant interior and exterior renovations which will restore the property to its former glory. Over the next 18-24 months Platinum will oversee a $19.4 million re-development of the Barron Building. During this time, the office spaces will be pre-leased to tenants seeking prime downtown space. The asking rate for the building will start at $40.00 psf. We anticipate completing the renovations and pre-leasing the building in 18-24 months at which time the building will be sold.
Last edited by newsposter on Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:34 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby newsposter » Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:42 pm

August 14 story about the Barron building refurbishment in the Herald. (But you heard it on this website first, July 11 see above ^) ... 1f2b187be1
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Postby newsposter » Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:16 pm

The Platinum Equities plans for the Barron building (see 2007 entries above) apparently were not realized and at some point Strategic Equities took over the project. I don't know the status of that, there doesn't seem to be any apparent activity, but they did commission a nice video about the history of the Barron Building that is worth watching. Here are a couple of links to it: ... dded#at=16
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Postby newsposter » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:45 pm

Read Irena Karshenbaum's article on the Barron Building in the Fall 2011 Chinook Country Historical Society newsletter: ... 1-Fall.pdf
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Postby Admin » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:40 am ... osing.html

Calgary's Uptown theatre to suspend events

Lawsuit launched against landlord for heat and maintenance issues

CBC News Posted: Nov 5, 2011 12:02 PM MT Last Updated: Nov 5, 2011 11:55 AM MT Read 25 comments25

The Uptown movie theatre screens will be fading to black in Calgary this weekend after a dispute with the landlord over heating and maintenance.

Since 1993, the theatre has featured independent films and live performances at the Marquee Room.

But current co-owner Blake O’Brien told CBC News he's had it with inadequate heat and maintenance issues that have plagued the theatre over the last few years. He said people often complain.

“We've limped through last winter and we just had to make the call. It's just too difficult you know trying to keep patrons happy and warm,” he said.

O'Brien said the theatre will have its last showing on Sunday.

Read more at: ... osing.html

Here is the news release from the Uptown:

For Immediate Release November 4, 2011:

The Uptown Stage and Screen and Marquee Room to suspend all public and
corporate programming and events pending resolution of a dispute with
its landlord regarding the provision of reliable heat and maintenance.

After 18 years of award-winning cinematic programming as well as
music, live theatre, dance and visual arts, the Uptown is forced to
suspend access to the public for lack of essential services to the

The Uptown Stage and Screen was built in 1951 and operated as the
Uptown Theatre until closing soon after the Olympic Film Festival in
1988. Current Uptown management purchased the historic theatre and
building above it in 1992. The Barron Building is recognised as
Calgary’s first skyscraper and the building and the Uptown are widely
considered among the finest examples of Moderne architecture in
Western Canada. Newel Post Developments Ltd. was committed to
preserving the building as a shining example of sustainable
restoration. However, insufficient funds to complete the renovation
project led to the sale of the building in 2007. By leasing back the
theatre complex, the Uptown focussed on bringing renewed vigour to the
facility with the opening of the Marquee Room, a complementary music
venue within the premises.

The Uptown has served many communities over its long life and has
hosted acts from Diana Krall to K’naan, Robert Polanyi to Kevin Smith
and all points in between. It was instrumental in the genesis of the
Encana WordFest, The Big Rock Eddies, ArtCity, Avenue Magazine,
numerous film festivals and so many of what continue to be enduring
fixtures on the Calgary arts scene.

Since October 2009, the Uptown has been involved in a dispute with
the landlord regarding the provision of heat and other essential
building services. As a result of this dispute, there is inadequate
heating to ensure the comfort of the patrons. Consequently, and with
great regret, the Uptown will cease public and corporate programming
in the Uptown and Marquee Room effective November 6, 2011, until such
time as the dispute with the landlord is resolved and services can be
restored. The offices will remain open in the premises and we will be
available for tours and booking enquiries until our re-launch. The
Uptown has taken, and will continue to take, appropriate legal action
against its landlord with the goal of resuming regular programming,
and thus continuing with a Calgary arts institution.

All Inquiries may be directed to Blake O’Brien 403 264 3707

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Postby Admin » Sat Nov 19, 2011 6:44 pm

Demolition permit application for the sign: ... =1&theater
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Anchor of the oilpatch deserves to be restored

Postby cjane » Tue Nov 22, 2011 3:45 pm

Irena Karshenbaum's recent (Nov. 20, 2011) op-ed in the Herald highlights the architectural and historic significance of the Barron Building.

PDF of the article: ... 202011.pdf
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Postby Admin » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:04 pm

Re: Uptown Marquee Panels - The Uptown had them removed due to the wind warnings, false alarm!
Last edited by Admin on Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:34 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Admin » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:42 pm

Link to the "Save the Uptown" Facebook page:
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Postby newsposter » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:31 pm

Landlord-tenant dispute keeps Uptown theatre shut
By Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald November 24, 2011

Read more: ... z1hPKWvXgP

There appears to be no end in sight for a landlord-tenant dispute that shut down operations at the historic Uptown Stage and Screen three weeks ago.

As film buffs and heritage advocates rally behind the theatre, the doors have remained shut since Nov. 6 over concerns that property owner Strategic Group was not providing proper maintenance to heat the building.

Now the owners of the Uptown have posted a mysterious application on its Facebook page made to the City of Calgary on behalf of the landlord to allow for the demolition of the theatre’s iconic sign and marquee. The application was made Oct. 11, three weeks before programming was suspended at the theatre.

“I’m going to apologize in advance, because you’re going to ask me what the landlord’s plans are and I’m going to scream,” said a clearly frustrated Blake O’Brien, co-owner of the Uptown.

“That’s what everyone is asking me and I do not have a clue what their plans are.

“I’m saying as politely as possible that people should talk to them. Obviously, they haven’t told me.”

Unfortunately, no one from Strategic Group is talking, either. Its spokesperson, Jodi McNabb, told the Herald three weeks ago that the issue was “before the courts.”

When asked specifically about the application to demolish the marquee this week, McNabb said: “We don’t have any further comment at this point.”

Meanwhile, O’Brien said the heat has not been restored and the Uptown continues to pursue legal action against the landlord.

And while he said he is reluctant to carry out a “trial in the court of public opinion,” he said he was gratified by the support the Uptown has received from the public.

The theatre’s Facebook page and a separate “Save the Uptown” account on the social network has become a rallying point for supporters, with the latter closing in on 900 “likes.”

The Uptown Stage and Screen was built in 1951.

The Barron Building is considered a significant architectural gem in Alberta.

Current Uptown management purchased the building in 1992, but sold it in 2007 and leased back the theatre complex.

O’Brien said he had plans to further renovate the facility.

“We have a very long lease and as far as I’m concerned it’s water tight,” he says. “We are staying put.”

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
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Postby newsposter » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:35 pm

December 13, 2011 blog post from the Calgary Public Library local history folks about the Barron Building / Uptown Theatre ... 1764#p1764
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Postby newsposter » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:43 pm

A post on the "Save the Uptown" facebook page said on December 21, 2011: No heat yet but a judge has ordered the marquee to not be demolished or otherwise altered.

(The building owners had previously applied for a permit to demolish the sign. See the above posting from Nov. 19. It seems the theater and marquee are under the control of the theatre owner, rather than the building owners, but that was for the judge to mull over...)
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Postby newsposter » Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:44 pm

Good article in January 2012 Beatroute. ... cleID=5022

Says supporter Lindsay Meads in the article, “if Strategic Group (the building owners) want to be community stewards and stay true to the 'creative vision' that their website purports, they could restore the building in a way that celebrates the past but embraces the future.”

Well said.

Keep in touch with the effort to "save the uptown" on their Facebook page:
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Postby newsposter » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:46 pm

Great article in the January 20 Swerve - delivered in the Herald and free on some newsstands: ... anguishes/

PDF version: ... Swerve.pdf
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Postby newsposter » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:16 pm

David Neill's letter to the Calgary Herald regarding the Barron building marquee, "Worth Saving", Jan 27, (arguing in favour of demolishing the marquee and other changes to the ground floor). ... story.html

In response (as posted by cjane elsewhere, and transplanted here for continuity): CHI's Bob van Wegen enters the debate in the Calgary Herald, January 31 "Marquee too precious to be demolished":

The same Bob on the CBC Calgary Eyeopener, morning of February 1. Here is a link to the interview: ... e-marquee/

:!: Go to page 2 of this thread for Deborah Yedlin, Calgary Herald column, February 3: ... =3101#3101
Last edited by newsposter on Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:14 am, edited 2 times in total.
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