Republic Nightclub closing to make way for Cineplex Rec Room in downtown Vancouver

Mar 7 2019, 7:02 pm

More details have been released on Cineplex’s new major Rec Room entertainment destination in downtown Vancouver and how it will fit within the Granville Entertainment District (GED).

The new Rec Room will be located within a renovated space at 855 Granville Street, the three buildings of the former Empire Granville 7 theatre complex, which has been sitting vacant since 2012.

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A liquor application submitted to the City of Vancouver indicates Republic Nightclub at 958 Granville Street — located one block south on Granville Street — has entered into an agreement with Cineplex and will be canceling its liquor primary license and closing its venue. This is in exchange for a new liquor primary license for the Rec Room.

It should also be noted that Republic Nightclub is already affected by a proposal to redevelop its existing location into a four-storey retail and office building.

According to nightclub operators, the closure is anticipated sometime in 2020.

The gaming area at Cineplex’s The Rec Room in South Edmonton. (Cineplex)

Cineplex is seeking 375 liquor primary seats, with 277 seats provided by the “termination of the Republic Nightclub license,” effectively resulting in a net increase of 98 liquor primary seats in the GED.

Some of the Republic Nightclub’s functions will be replaced by a new event and concert venue with a stage within the Rec Room’s 11,500-sq-ft basement level, which will have a liquor primary license capacity for 646 people.

“Staff support this application, given the desire to revitalize the Granville Entertainment District and attract new, diverse businesses that shift the nighttime landscape. In addition, the new event space serving as a live performance venue in the lower level will add to the diversity and vibrancy of the GED,” reads a city staff report.

“Staff support this application and consider it in alignment with Council’s Granville Entertainment District moratorium policy where new Liquor Primary licences can be considered for live performance venues, seat relocations and opportunities to find creative solutions for net seat reductions in the GED.”

Cineplex Rec Room 855 Granville Street Vancouver

Basement event venue for the Cineplex Rec Room at 855 Granville Street in downtown Vancouver. (Revel House / Cineplex)

Cineplex Rec Room 855 Granville Street Vancouver

Third-level lounge and rooftop plan for the Cineplex Rec Room at 855 Granville Street in downtown Vancouver. (Revel House / Cineplex)

On the third level, another liquor primary license will cover an area providing a capacity for a new 61-person capacity lounge and a 314-person capacity outdoor rooftop patio.

The application notes the four-level Rec Room, taking over the entire former theatre complex, will include two restaurants operating with food primary licenses on the main and second levels, along with a variety of entertainment and game playing options such as video and arcade games, sports and interactive games, redemption games, simulators, and virtual reality experiences.

Other activities found throughout the destination entail billiards, bowling, shuffleboard, and ping pong.

The bowling alley at Cineplex’s The Rec Room in South Edmonton. (Cineplex)

Cineplex wants its proposed hours of operation for the two liquor licenses — basement event venue and third-level lounge — to be 9 am to 2 am from Sunday to Thursday and 9 am to 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays, which would meet the municipal government’s extended hours of liquor service policy for the area. The third-level patio’s hours will end at 11 pm nightly.

A family food service endorsement to the provincial liquor licenses would also allow minors, accompanied by a parent or guardian, to enter all the licensed areas until 10 pm, when food service is available for families.

The application makes no mention of whether this Rec Room location will contain any VIP Cinemas theatre screens.

Cineplex also owns and operates the nearby nine-auditorium Scotiabank Theatre at 900 Burrard Street and the 12-screen Odeon theatre at International Village. Further south on the GED, later this spring, Colony plans on opening a new 15,000-sq-ft sports bar and entertainment venue within the former space of the Caprice Nightclub.

This spring, Cineplex is expected to open a Park Royal location with regular and VIP Cinemas screens. Later in the year, it will also open its first Rec Room location in Metro Vancouver at the new The Amazing Brentwood shopping mall in Burnaby. This Rec Room will include a five-screen VIP Cinemas attraction.

Current condition:

Existing condition of Empire Granville 7 theatres at 855 Granville Street, Vancouver. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership)