Leonard Schein says the Ridge Theatre hasn't been served with notice from its landlord

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      The operator of the Ridge Theatre says it's premature to talk of its demise.

      Leonard Schein, president of Festival Cinemas, told the Straight by phone that his company has a lease until September 30, 2013 in the strip mall on the northwest corner of Arbutus Street and West 16th Avenue in Vancouver.

      "No tenant has been served with any notice under a demolition clause, which exists in all our leases," he said.

      Schein suggested that media reports of the looming closure of the Ridge were triggered by a sign that Cressey Development Group placed on the block-long building.

      "They haven't been to the city yet to get approval to develop the property," he added. "We're talking a minimum six months to a year before anything happens to that shopping centre."

      Cressey vice president Hani Lammam told the Straight that the company plans to apply for a development permit to build a mixed-use project on the site with residential condos on top of one level of retail. He indicated that Cressey has a "partially completed" tenancy with a "major-brand" food retailer, which he wouldn't identify, to occupy approximately 22,000 square feet.

      "I'm sympathetic to a lot of the issues with respect to single-screen theatres," Lammam said. "And there has been a lot of effort to save them, especially when they're single-purpose buildings. So I appreciate that type of situation. But in this case, they're part of a much larger building."

      There are 10 other tenants in the mall: McDonald's, Arbutus-Ridge Medical-Dental Centre, True Value Hardware, Ridge Garden Restaurant, Kis Hair Design, Educational Book Supply, Varsity Ridge Bowling, Happy Laundromat, Underwriters Insurance, and Open Door Yoga.

      Lammam revealed that Schein had approached Cressey and inquired about the possibility of including an eight-screen multiplex in a new building on the site.

      Cressey considered the idea of a multiplex, according to Lammam, but concluded that it would have "tremendous parking requirements", take up too much of the space, and possibly alienate nearby neighbours.

      "It would probably require 40 feet of clear ceiling height because of the stadium seating that goes along with it, and we have a height restriction in the zone," Lammam added.

      Schein said that the Ridge was built in 1950 and to his knowledge, it has never been designated as a heritage building that must be preserved. It was added to the city's list of "recent landmarks", which includes 22 post–Second World War buildings of local, regional, and national significance. He pointed out that neighbourhood theatres like the Ridge provide first jobs for kids in the neighbourhood and offer a venue for events for schools, nonprofit groups, festivals, and local charities.

      "I've always supported neighbourhood theatres," he said.




      Mar 13, 2012 at 11:10am

      Keep culture in Vancouver! Anyone for tearing down BC Place and Rogers Arena and building lots of little live theatre spaces and movie houses instead? I am.

      Heritage Vancouver

      Mar 13, 2012 at 11:49am

      It's a heritage B-listed property on the City's 'recent landmark' heritage inventory; it's only listed (no protection), and not heritage designated (legally protected). Designed by architects Kaplan & Sprachman (Toronto) in 1949.


      Mar 13, 2012 at 12:54pm

      Don't it always seem to go,
      That you don't know what you got
      'Til it's gone
      Vancouver paved culture and put up another fukn mixed used project with condos on the top
      I've got great memories of some incredible double bills from all over the world in the 80's and early 90's....I received a real education on filmaking from the Ridge, they had the best movies playing nightly in this city in their day.
      The Van East and the Park also had great programming in thos days too.
      Yup and the Town Pump, Luv a Fair, Starfish Room, Richards and many more for music all vanished into thin air and returned as dreaded


      Mar 13, 2012 at 8:05pm

      I can hardly wait for the overpriced, shoebox sized condos!


      Mar 14, 2012 at 1:06am

      A new development? Vancouver just doesn't have enough of them! Just this weekend I had a long conversation with a recent transplant about Vancouver's 'flavour' in the city, all the different neighbourhoods (she's mostly lived in Taranna, whereas I'm first generation, and was born here), and how Lotusland used to be in the 80s, pre-Expo (she'd been here briefly then) when some flavour and characteristic buildings still existed.
      Being a newcomer, she could wield a more objective eye, and said it doesn't matter if you're in Surrey, Richmond, North Van or Kerrisdale, everything is becoming homogenized. So, add the Ridge to the list of the dearly-departed, and prepare to welcome another big-box, dull, unexceptional condo-retail 'space' (for that's all they are) ... I know we have to acknowledge for progress, and in 50 year's time whatever is built will be giving way for other developments but does it all have to be soooooo...... "blah". 460 sq.ft of "living" space, stores/restaurants/services underneath...nothing inviting. Heaven forbid a structure incorporate the kitcshy-ness of the Ridge. Could another Sinclair Centre even be developed today with the need for same-ness that is all-pervading in current design? I swear, one day a developer should just mass-produce a blue-print for a giant building in the shape of a $-sign. Put a door on it and say 'done'. At least that would be honest.

      The Red One

      Mar 28, 2012 at 11:16am

      I feel fortunate to have grown up in a Vancouver that had the character of a beaten up, loading-dock laden 'Yaletown' where Luv-a-fair spiced up a dark night and The Town Pump gave us real live bands. It was an era when you didn't think about getting shot, stabbed or date-drugged, you just stunk of smoke from the night before.
      The Ridge, The Hollywood, The Bay (on Denman) and many of the great theaters that were, are (or soon will be) the stuff of even greater memories. Sadly, developers - rather than people - have always run this town, thus Vancouver's future is one homogenous strip mall of mixed-use US chain stores and 'pigeonnier' condos. Unless.