The co-owner of the Odyssey nightclub is optimistic that he has found a new location for the popular gay club.
“We’re more than hopeful; it’s a question of finalizing the details,” says Michael Levy.
Levy would not say when or where the nightclub will move, but promises to make an announcement when plans are concrete. The city has given the club until early November to vacate its current property.
Levy says locating a new space has taken longer than expected as several possible sites have not panned out and city zoning laws for primary liquor license holders are restrictive. “The city made it so difficult to relocate by limiting the zoning to a handful of blocks in the West End.”
Businesses with liquor primary licenses can only occupy sites on three or four blocks on Davie and Denman Sts, Levy explains.
“The regulations are not there because we want to be onerous about it, but because there is a public objective that they be regulated,” says Doug Robinson, a project facilitator with the city’s development department.
Robinson agrees the process is rigid and says it’s “deliberately so” out of respect to the public who live and work in the areas.
Robinson confirms that construction on the new supportive housing building will begin before the end of the year. Levy received notice in May that 1233-1251 Howe St —which currently houses the Odyssey —will be converted into a 12-storey building with 110 units of supportive housing.
The site is one of a dozen of city-owned properties being converted, based on a city-province agreement to create up to 1200 subsidized units, each site to be administered by a different non-profit housing society. The McLaren Housing Society will manage the Howe St property for low-income people with HIV/AIDS.
Jerry Evans, with real estate services for the city, says the Odyssey will receive financial compensation for the early termination of its lease, which was supposed to go to 2011. “The lease had provisions in it for the termination of the lease. All we’ve done is exercise the right to terminate the lease,” he says. Evans would not comment on how much compensation the Odyssey is expected to receive.