Landowner accepts offer from Rio Theatre operator to buy venue

Feb 8 2018, 5:07 pm

It appears The Rio Theatre is one giant step towards being saved from condo redevelopment.

Late Thursday evening, the operators of the cherished East Vancouver independent theatre and cultural venue announced that the landlord had accepted their offer to buy the property.

And according to the theatre, the public outcry over the prospect of losing the theatre – given its significance to the city’s arts scene – contributed to the win.

A post on the theatre’s Facebook page reads: “More details coming soon, but it goes without saying: A huge part of the reason we won the bid is because of the massive mobilization of those of you who live, laugh, work and play on the corner of #EastVan we call home. The clock is ticking but for now, tonight – we did it.”

The next step will be to fundraise for the theatre’s seven-figure acquisition of the property it sits on. The latest assessed value from BC Assessment pegs the property at $4 million, up from $3.55 million the previous year, but this does not provide an accurate view of market value.

The property is currently owned by Leonard Schein, who founded the Vancouver International Film Festival and previously owned Park Theatre on Cambie Street and the now-demolished Ridge Theatre on Arbutus Street.

In a previous post last month, theatre operator Corinne Lea said Schein was willing to sell the property to her for market value.

According to a recent CBRE listing for the property, 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.

However, the plan also stipulates that the City will “consider applications for additional height, density, and relaxations on the Rio Theatre and sites directly adjacent to it, in order to support renewal and expansion of the cultural facility.”

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