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Finnegan’s and Phoenix to be used as “swing space” for remediation project



UFV’s recent purchase of the Finnegan’s Pub and Phoenix Ballroom lot will see the buildings gutted and turned into temporary offices and classroom spaces while remediation work is being done on the Abbotsford campus.

There are hopes of fitting between seven and nine classrooms and a handful of offices into the space. Classes and offices disrupted by the remediation work will be temporarily relocated to the Finnegan’s building, possibly for several weeks at a time.

Plans for the renovation of the building will be made over the fall and winter, and construction will begin in the spring, according to Craig Toews, UFV vice president external. Remediation work to the outside of several UFV buildings, beginning with A and D building, will begin as soon as the temporary space is ready.

“It’s really nice that we were able to come up with some short-term space that can get that project off the ground without having to build temporary space or bring on modular buildings,” Toews said.

“It was very timely in answering the call for the need for swing space for this project.”

Plans for the remediation work to the UFV buildings are not concrete as of yet, but Toews said it will involve the renewal of the outside skins of the buildings to extend their life cycles, and will result in some “interesting architectural changes” to the look of the buildings.

In addition to answering the call for additional space for this remediation project, Toews said the purchase of the lot was in general a strategic long-term investment for the university.

Around two-thirds of the Abbotsford campus is surrounded by Agricultural Land Reserves (ARL), a provincially designated land-use zone primarily for farming activities, which limits the long-term expansion abilities of the university.

“It was very strategic, on the top of that, in how it fits with our vision around the UDistrict plan and the mixed uses on the edge of our canvas; how we’re trying to blend campus and community,” Toews added.  

The long-term plans for the property have not been confirmed as of yet, but Toews said plans for the lot will not just be another building of classrooms and offices.

“There’ll be a lot of consultation and dialogue around that in the months to come,” said Toews.

“If you look at some of the mixed use ideas of the UDistrict plan, I think some of those ideas around innovation and learning hubs and communities would definitely be informing what kind of uses people put in, what we do with it, and design it beyond that immediate need for the [remediation] project.”

Finnegans Pub and Phoenix Ballroom unexpectedly closed in January of this year, with owner Paul Esposito Sr. citing loss of energy and passion for the pub as reasons for the closure. The original Finnegan’s at Kings Crossing burnt down in 2005 after being open for 18 years, with the new pub and ballroom opening in May 2009.

The 1.6 acre lot was purchased for nearly $10 million, and UFV will be getting possession of the property Oct. 1.

Image: Jessica Barclay/The Cascade

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