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City wants to purchase vacant former bank building in Preston

Staff say the property, adjacent to Central Park, could accommodate multiple uses as a cultural event space
Screenshot 2022-05-12 2.15.02 PM
The former RBC branch on King Street East in Preston is up for sale for $1.2 million and the City of Cambridge wants to buy it.

The city wants to purchase the former RBC branch beside Central Park in Preston for $1.2 million and says it could be used to accommodate a seasonal indoor market, club space, special events and overflow programming from the nearby Allan Reuter Centre.

Ideally located in the Preston town core, city staff say an inspection listed the building in fair-to-good condition despite finding asbestos in the walls.

The asbestos does not require immediate removal, but will need to be dealt with under prescribed standards when the building is renovated. The estimated cost for that work is about $100,000.

Staff is recommending council approve the purchase using funds from the Core Areas Transformation Reserve Fund.

The property, owned by Global Realty Holdings Ltd., which is a subsidiary of RBC Royal Bank, was the site of an RBC branch for over 25 years.

Last year the bank consolidated its branches and vacated the property.

Its location, directly beside Central Park, is the main draw for the city.

The one-acre park features a bandstand, open green space, floral displays, and the Preston Legion Cenotaph, and is a popular meeting place.

Central Park hosts outdoor events such as concerts, Christmas Candyland, and the Preston Towne Farmer’s Market.

Staff say the property could complement the outdoor space and help support and expand the Preston Towne Farmer’s Market.

It could also be used as a venue for events such as antique fairs, food fairs, art fairs, and pop-up shops in support of local small businesses.

Annual operating costs would be about $47,000.

Staff believe the facility could be leased out to generate additional revenue of about $35,000 annually, over and above operating costs. 

It could also be used as a "makerspace for the community or as an event space for local community groups and clubs," reads the report.

The total cost of purchasing the property, inclusive of applicable taxes, would be $1.25 million.

Council will be asked to approve the purchase next week.