After an iconic East Vancouver performance venue was listed for sale by its owners recently, the operators of the Rio Theatre have launched a petition to try and drum up enough support to buy the building and save it from potential redevelopment.
In the petition, the theatre’s primary operator, Corinne Lea, says the venue’s operators are preparing an offer to buy the building, but that the deadline is February 6, 2018.
“We need your help fast,” the petition states. “We need to collect as many signatures as possible to demonstrate the community’s support in saving the existing, historical, art-deco venue that we know and love.”
While the City of Vancouver “has made provisions that a developer would have to include a ‘movie theatre’ in a new building, this does not ensure the same size, or that it would have live performance space,” the petition reads.
It also expresses concerns that during construction, the East Vancouver neighbourhood would be left with “a cavernous hole in the ground,” staff would lose their livelihoods, and “thousands of patrons and performers” would lose a “beloved” cultural space.
And although the theatre’s operators currently have an eight-year lease on the the building, “there would likely be pressure from a new developer to shorten this term.”
The Rio “has emerged as one of Canada’s most successful live performance/single-screen venues, and leads the way as a model for all independent theatres,” the petition says. “As the operators and management of the Rio Theatre, we do not want to see it destroyed.”
According to a recent CBRE listing, the 50-ft-wide, 6,350-sq-ft site has “strong assembly potential” for “high density residential” and could potentially accommodate a building up to 10 storeys in height, based on the municipal government’s 2016-approved Grandview-Woodland Community Plan.