NOW Magazine - - MUSIC -

Just a month after the fu­ture of The Mata­dor seemed like it was fi­nally cer­tain, plans to re-open the his­toric mu­sic venue and ball­room at Col­lege and Dover­court have stalled once more, with the build­ing slated to go on sale Thurs­day (Oc­to­ber 18).

Mata­dor co-owner Paul McCaughey tells NOW that the project’s in­vestor, his brother Gerry McCaughey, with­drew due to “in­vestor fa­tigue,” which is “un­der­stand­able after eight years,” he says. “The whole thing just took too long.”

Paul McCaughey an­nounced on Face­book late Fri­day night that he is with­draw­ing from the Mata­dor project and that the build­ing is be­ing sold. As it cur­rently stands, he’s re­tired from the project but will­ing to see it to fruition if in­vestors are found.

“This thing can’t go for­ward with­out the vi­sion, plan and con­sen­sus that I’ve put to­gether,” he says. “It’s go­ing to take an in­vestor who’s fol­lowed us, who’s in­spired, who re­ally wants to see the Mata­dor Ball­room re­born.”

Should any­one buy the build­ing with­out McCaughey’s plans, they’d es­sen­tially have to start from scratch, as he owns the trade­marks, the liquor li­cence and the long-sought-after zon­ing cer­tifi­cate.

“It’s taken an ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of ef­fort to bring its rep­u­ta­tion back from its ig­no­ble days,” McCaughey says, in ref­er­ence to the Mata­dor’s years as an il­le­gal speakeasy. “We bought a prop­erty that had a cer­tain amount of po­lit­i­cal tox­i­c­ity to it, and over the last eight years we’ve been able to get it to a very high pro­file. We have business knock­ing at our door.”

Last month McCaughey fi­nally se­cured the zon­ing cer­tifi­cate that meant it could be run as a pub­lic hall and restau­rant. It seemed like a sign that the many ob­sta­cles the McCaugh­eys had faced thanks to City Hall were fi­nally be­hind them. They’d even set a goal to re-open by March 2019. While that looks less at­tain­able now, it de­pends on who buys it and what their in­ten­tions are.

“If you want to buy it and turn it into a Shop­per’s Drug Mart or an of­fice space, I guess you could do that,” he wearily ad­mits. “Or if you wanted to hold it and de­velop it later be­cause it’s a linch­pin for the cor­ner, you could do that. But it wouldn’t be the Mata­dor.”

McCaughey calls the set­back “blame­less,” but he says that the project should never have taken as long as it has.

“Even with [city coun­cil­lor] Ana Bailão ap­prov­ing of the plan we made, it still took the bet­ter part of 18 months for us to get from a po­si­tion where [the city] said it had to be re-zoned to, ‘Here’s your zon­ing cer­tifi­cate, you can go now,’” he says. “That’s three life­times in this city. If some­thing takes six to eight months, you’re dead in the wa­ter. Eight years?”


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