Public meeting called to devise ideas to save Hollywood Theatre

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      Anyone interested in the fate of a historic theatre on West Broadway is being invited to offer their views at a meeting on Sunday (November 17).

      The Coalition to Save the Hollywood Theatre will welcome public input between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue).

      Spokesperson Mel Lehan said in a news release that city council has given the community 75 days to come up with a proposal.

      "We are in the process of creating a plan and would like to hear ideas and thoughts from anyone in our community and in our city who share our concern about the importance of retaining this historic heritage theatre," Lehan said. "We only have a very short window before the building will be gutted and its heritage value lost."

      The Hollywood was built in the mid 1930s and was owned and operated for decades by the Fairleigh family.

      According to the coalition, the theatre at 3123 West Broadway remains "in fine condition today both inside and out".

      The art-deco structure was designed by architect Harold Culleme and is listed as a "B" building on the Vancouver Heritage Register.

      Bonnis Properties owns the site, which is being leased to a church until the end of this month.

      On November 5, the city sent a letter to neighbours in the area stating that there's a development application "to change the use from Theatre to Fitness Centre".

      This would involve interior and exterior alterations, as well as the addition of 3,875 square feet for a new second-floor space.

      No parking is being added because the architect argues that the proposed wellness and fitness centre won't need as many spaces as a 650-seat theatre.

      "The exterior of the front façade will be preserved and repaired as required," the architect states in a letter on the city website. "Some
      restoration work has already been started and the original historic paint colors have  been identified. The final restoration work of the building façade will be conducted in coordination with the heritage consultant to ensure the adherence to the original appearance of the building."




      Nov 17, 2013 at 8:16am

      How do we stop the arts destruction juggernaut? What are the economics of a single-screen movie theatre? How close can one get to making money and showing good films too?


      Nov 18, 2013 at 2:28pm

      Well Hazlit, this theatre would still be a theatre if people went to it. Instead it sat empty for two years and then finally someone said "Ok I'll take it" and made plans to reconfigure the interior for fitness - which is a kissing cousin of sports, your nemesis.

      Heritage advocates of earlier generations must have bemoaned the loss of the pony express and then of telegraphs but what happened is that there are few artifacts in museums and the sites were reconfigured for modern uses.

      This is not to deny that the loss of a heritage facility with quaint red curtains and so much tradition to the area makes one feel very nostalgic and sad.

      But who is supposed to pay so that I don't feel nostalgic or sad? I feel reluctant to ask for public money for that.


      Nov 18, 2013 at 3:36pm

      Well RUK,

      I admire you for your democratic tendencies, and very good of you not to ask the public for money, but since you mention my nemesis, why do goverments feel OK about spending public money on sports stadia (new roofs etc.), on cops, on cleaning up the mess sports fans make?

      Will you stand outside City Hall with a sign saying "Give us back our $600 million for a stupid stadium roof"?

      If you won't then it's time to ask the "rich" public (nice condos in Coal Harbour wouldn't you say?) to cough up some cash.


      Nov 18, 2013 at 4:14pm

      I have no problem with people voluntarily giving their cash! If they have the cash to buy condos in Coal Harbour and then not live in them, which seems to be the case, then they have RMB to blow.

      But coughing up, and being made to cough, are quite different as your doctor will tell you when you are 40.

      As for the roof, I might say "two wrongs don't make a right" if indeed it was a wrong to essentially rebuild that stadium, which unlike the Hollywood had paying customers in the last two years.

      This is not to suggest that it is a joyful sign that a classic movie theatre should become a zumba palace, whilst tax dollars help build a place for the BC Lions and, thus, argumentative drunken louts in all but the family section.


      Nov 19, 2013 at 5:18pm

      Oh and to attempt to answer your question directly, I don't know why governments invest in stadia.

      If I had to guess, I would say that it is because sports teams generate huge amounts of money, and because their wearing of the town's name helps create a "big league city" atmosphere presumably to attract people with huge amounts of money.

      This particular stadium was put up to house the BC Lions and refitted for soccer - Greg Kerfoot's proposal to build his own in Gastown having been rejected. I think that the CFL would be toast without the Lions and that would end a hundred-year tradition right there.

      Conversely, the Hollywood Theatre was a place that displays but did not generate its entertainment content.

      Does that make you like sports more? Of course not.

      Changing the subject slightly, did you go to the public meeting to devise ideas to save this joint? Were there any good ideas?