The Next Stage for Stratford’s Knox Presbyterian Church
Stratford, Ontario, March 23, 2022 – The congregation at Knox Presbyterian Church in Stratford announced a partnership today with Urbanistyc, a BMI Group company, that will preserve one of Stratford’s most historic churches. The agreement signed by both the church and developer will allow for continued use of the church by the congregation and future development of the full church site. A Letter of Intent from Urbanistyc has been approved by the church’s Session, Trustees, the re-development Task Group, and the congregation. The congregation met tonight to provide final approval. The letter confirms the sale of the church property and a plan that will preserve the heritage building at the corner of Ontario and Waterloo streets. The BMI Group has also made a commitment to further investments that will address improvements to the exterior of the church building and basic building code issues in the interior, many that are associated with upgrades to the sanctuary. The agreement also allows the congregation to lease back space for worship and other purposes. Partners to the agreement have agreed to a June 30, 2022, closing. Urbanistyc has extensive experience with the preservation and repurposing of heritage buildings. For several years now, a Task Group of Knox members has been seeking solutions for sustaining and re- imagining the historic church property that has become too expensive for the congregation to maintain. The Task Group also sought input from the Trinity Centres Foundation (TCF), Canada’s leading consulting resource for church congregations looking to reconfigure their building use and sustain their community presence. Next steps involve further discussions among the developer, the Knox congregation and the Stratford Arts and Culture Collective (SACC) about how the site might evolve so it delivers significant economic, social and cultural benefits to the community. As a result of their joint work on the Knox Next Stage Project in recent years, SACC and Knox believe that the main sanctuary of the church can be converted into a much-needed space for the performing arts with an emphasis on community-based groups and independent artists. SACC has identified the need for a state-of-the art facility that could handle community-based theatre, arts and musical productions, and other cultural activities. The developer shares this vision of Knox as a vital arts hub and wants to ensure that the future of the church remains linked to the local community and the creative energy of its artists.
Listen to Allan Rothwell, Chair of the Knox Task Group and Ron Dodson, Co-Chair of SAAC with Jamie Cottle on Juice FM HERE
Quotes “Working with this developer will sustain the life, heritage and purpose of Knox,” says Allan Rothwell, Chair of the Knox Task Group . “The redevelopment of the church is very intentional and will allow the Knox congregation to focus once again on our faith and how it is expressed in Stratford.” “For so many years, the local arts community has been dreaming about what could be achieved if we had a quality performance space outfitted with modern technical infrastructure," said Ron Dodson, who co-chairs SACC along with Chris Leberg. “Working with the developer and Knox, the Knox Next Stage project will create a site that inspires artistic excellence and wows its audiences."
“We are excited to begin the work on this project in earnest,” says Paul Veldman, Managing Director of the BMI group. “Our next steps include working with Knox and SACC to lay out the different uses for the building, begin adapting the structure for more shared uses, and add more facilities to serve the amazing arts community within Stratford!”
“This partnership is a model for the church in Canada” says TCF CEO Rev. Graham Singh.
Susan Wright, Knox Next Stage 519-703-2020
Allan Rothwell, Knox Task Group 519-291-9898
Ron Dodson, Stratford Arts and Culture Collective (SACC)
Brent Swance, The BMI Group
519 488 6526