The Rio Theatre equivalent in the Vancouver Westside has been granted a new life.
Earlier today, Vancouver City Council unanimously approved a redevelopment project on an adjacent site to the Hollywood Theatre, and it involves not only building a new mixed-use building but also the restoration of the art deco theatre, which has faced possible demolition over the past decade.
“Big thanks to many people in the community, this has been many years of activism and concern over the loss of the Hollywood,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson.
“There were lots of organizing, lots of work to help turn this around… There were some challenges and hardships along the way, but great work was done to get where we are today.”
The redevelopment site at 3133 West Broadway, located immediately west of the theatre building, is now slated to become a new six-storey, mixed-use building.
The new building, designed by Marianne Amodio Architecture Studio, will consist of 4,423 sq. ft. of ground-level retail and 40 market housing units in the upper floors. There will be two levels of underground parking with a total of 47 parking spaces.
It will have a total floor space area of 63,000 sq. ft., including the 8,000 sq. ft. theatre, which is one of Vancouver’s largest standalone theatres with 651 seats – larger than the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver.
As part of the redevelopment, the developer will restore and renovate the adjacent Hollywood Theatre into a “state-of-the-art performing arts centre dedicated to bringing the creative arts to the local community.”
The theatre, which opened in 1935 and permanently closed in 2011, will be designated as a protected heritage property. Its art deco style is nearly in its original condition, with features such as hieroglyphic decorations, an undulating facade, inset scrolled figures, black and gold tiles, frameless glass ticket booth, and prominent marquee and exterior signage.
Its business model will be similar to the Rio Theatre, with a focus on live performances, independent film screenings, cultural events, and non-profit and free event space.
“The Hollywood Theatre project team is pleased that we all found common ground to re-open the Hollywood Theatre as a facility dedicated to presenting multiple genres of art, including cinema, live music, community-use events and more,” said Sean Mawhinney and David Hawkes, the future Building And Operations Manager and General Manager-Booker-Producer respectively, in a joint statement.
“The neighbours, local business, entertainment business professionals and arts groups are all to be commended for their absolute passion for this project, which is why we are a go! We’d also like to acknowledge Cultural Services and our council for recognizing the importance of supporting multi-use cultural spaces for all Vancouverites to enjoy the arts.”
Both Mwhinney and Hawkes are seasoned theatre building managers and event producers.
Mwhinney is the building manager head of maintenance for both the Commodore Ballroom and Vogue Theatre downtown. Hawkes was previously a DJ, an on-air radio music programmer, involved with the Imperial Theatre’s revival, and has produced a number of events in the city.
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