$500,000 needed for hub
Drouin can get its own readyto-use community hub for a mere half-a-million dollars. The once-off opportunity is for a community group to buy the Old Drouin Butter Factory in South Rd. The venue has been redeveloped over the past 30 years as a mix of café/restaurant, meeting rooms, two theatres and art gallery space with the potential to add sales points, artists workshop spaces and community gardens. The building has been progressively upgraded from a derelict state by three members of the O’Donnell family. The only surviving member of trio Ken O’Donnell now wants to sell. His first offer is for a not-forprofit community body to take it over as a live music, visual arts and community centre. The price was described as “cheap” and well below market value by local resident Rhona Hendrick, a member of an interim committee of management of the facility, but conditional on it being utilised as a central community feature for the town.
The old factory building’s façade has National Trust Historic Buildings listing and since its initial establishment in 1904 has been used as a butter factory, power station, grain store, fertiliser outlet before its most recent incarnation.
Ms Hendrick said the big challenge was raising the $500,000 needed.
The interim committee of Ms Hendrick, Tim Wills, Jeanne Haughton, Leane Gooding, Ellen Burrows, Vin Bibby and Judy Farmer is already moving towards forming an incorporated not-for-profit body as a first step.
They aim to raise the purchase price or have commitments to meet it by the middle of next year.
Mr O’Donnell has given approval for the interim committee to help with running the facility until its sale.
He has said he wants it retained for community if at all possible.
An open day has been organised for next Sunday, between 10am to 5pm, to enable members of the public to see what the community can get, or what it might miss out on.
Ms Hendrick said Drouin currently has no public meeting place and for years individuals and groups had wished for a community hub.
The open day will give people a chance to view the renovated buildings and consider ways they might serve community needs, she said.
Membership and support to buy the property will be sought from a wide variety of existing community groups, businesses, organisations and individuals.
Ms Hendrick said the old factory was perfectly located for a community centre being on a central and convenient site close to the shopping centre and railway station.
Supporters of the campaign to have the community buy the redeveloped Old Drouin Butter Factory premises include, from left, Vin Bibby, Rhona Hendrick, Des Hughes, Sue Osborn and Tim Wills.