Hollywood Theatre wins reprieve

Iconic former theatre gets another extension

The Hollywood Theatre is not in imminent danger of demolition.

While investigating the application to redevelop it as a fitness centre, city staff found an encroachment agreement from 1984 that requires the owner to remove the rear 10 feet from the building if its use is changed from a theatre.

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The back lane is only 10 feet wide behind the building and the city would prefer it to be the typical 20 feet. The city has put the development permit application on hold.

Dino Bonnis, owner of the nearly 80-year-old theatre at 3123 West Broadway has “voluntarily” agreed to extend the 75-day protection on the theatre for another 45 days, the end of which will coincide with a council meeting, said Brian Jackson, the city’s general manager of planning and development, Monday afternoon.

The 75-day protection would have ended Jan. 20.

“That’s wonderful news if that’s the case,” Mel Lehan, spokesperson for the Save the Hollywood Coalition, said of the extension Tuesday morning.

Jackson said Bonnis wants to cooperate with the city because he owns “quite a bit of property on Broadway.

“He wants to signal that he has no intent of moving forward on this property in the coming month until there’s further discussion either with the Save the Hollywood Coalition or others who may be interested in purchasing the property,” Jackson added.

Jackson said Bonnis would have been aware of the encroachment agreement when he purchased the property in 2011 because it would have come up in a land title search.

Jackson said Bonnis is meeting with the city Wednesday to present a new proposal for the property.

Lehan said representatives of the coalition are meeting with the city Thursday.

Council passed a heritage action plan Dec. 4 that allows the city to be more flexible with conditional zoning and policy when it comes to saving significant cultural resources, including the Hollywood Theatre. Jackson said Monday city staff will explore options that could help preserve the theatre before the 45 days are up.

Measures that could include bonus density or grants would have to be approved by council after a public hearing.

Jackson noted Bonnis owns two properties next to the Hollywood. Under interim rezoning policies Bonnis could build a six-story rental building.

“But if we were to come to an agreement on saving the building, then perhaps we could look at six storeys for a market condo building,” Jackson said.

The Hollywood is categorized as a “B” building on the city’s heritage register. It’s recognized as a good example of art deco style and for having social and cultural value, but it lacks a designation that protects it from demolition.

Jackson stated in a memo that went to mayor and council Jan. 10 that if the coalition wants to save the theatre it must submit a business plan that includes money “to purchase, rehabilitate and operate the building that includes significant community and private commitments and does not rely on the city.”

B.C. Assessment values the property at more than $2.9 million. Lehan said the coalition has contacted a couple of potential buyers for the building.

crossi@vancourier.com
twitter.com/Cheryl_Rossi

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