New Dawn Enterprises has purchased the former Holy Angels property in the Northend of Sydney. The sale, which includes the school, convent, Margeurite Bourgeoys house and 2.77 acres of land, was finalized Thursday.
“We are thrilled and honoured to share the news of this important new project,” says New Dawn President Rankin MacSween. “Initial conversations with organization and individuals in our community point to a great deal of enthusiasm around the purchase and have highlighted substantial interest in its planned regeneration.”
While the end uses of the buildings will be confirmed through community consultations later this year, New Dawn’s early vision is focused around the concept of mixed-use spaces – converting the property into a vibrant and inclusive place where the community can live, work, learn, play and converse. This includes possibilities for a centre for the arts and creativity (including performance, meeting, community program and studio space), a centre for social innovation, co-working spaces, public, private and non-profit offices, an early childhood development centre, a café/restaurant, a local fresh grocer, private and/or post-secondary education classroom space, affordable and market housing, and a community kitchen.
According to Joella Foulds, Celtic Colours co-founder and Executive Director, “there is a need in this community for spaces and infrastructure that will help local artists and those working in the cultural sector to turn their talents and hard-work into viable livelihoods. The undertaking announced today seeks to do just that.”
Protocase co-founder and Director of Sale and Marketing, Doug Milburn, notes that “we now recognize the need for innovation if we are to grow our economic base in a way that offers people well-paying and secure employment. Yet, we still struggle to enable and support a culture of innovation, from elementary school through to post-secondary school and out into the workforce. We see here an opportunity to bring people together in a new way that nurtures a local culture of innovation.”
Based on conversations with Dr. Clarence Epstein, Director of Special Projects and Cultural Affairs at Concordia University, and Chris Borgal, Principal of Goldsmith Borgal & Company Ltd. Architects, New Dawn will take a phased approach to the redevelopment of the site.
“This property was itself developed in phases – as needs demanded and investment permitted,” says New Dawn Director of Operations, Norma Boyd. “We will begin to use the school immediately, so that we can, in the words of Mr. Borgal, preserve the incredible energy within. This then enables us to engage with the community from a place grounded in the property and to better invite them in both conceptually and physically.”
Tom Urbaniak, Associate Professor of Political Science at Cape Breton University and Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Heritage Canada Foundation, commends the purchase. “New Dawn’s intentions here confirm that our heritage architecture is amenable to contemporary uses. This is a crucial time for us. If we can re-purpose great landmarks like Holy Angels – and fill them with studios, and incubator businesses, and residents – we truly can turn this region around through home-grown talent and ingenuity. These buildings are a barometer of our performance and our leadership as a region”.
In the coming weeks New Dawn will issue a Request for Expressions of Interest to conduct a Feasibility Study that includes broader community consultations aimed at refining the vision for the property’s regeneration.
On behalf of the Congregation of Notre Dame, Sister Donna Eagan offers that “This is an occasion of deep gratitude and joy for the Congregation of Notre Dame as we realize the sale and transfer of ownership of Holy Angels High School and Convent to New Dawn Enterprises. This community-based organization is courageously taking up the challenge of designing and developing an arts and culture centre on this property that will, in many ways, carry on the legacy of the Congregation. Their vision is in harmony with our hopes and desires for the work of justice that raises the dignity of human lives. We extend our best wishes to all working at New Dawn for the utmost success in achieving these goals and dreams”.