Rental suites and retail proposed for site of former Empire Theatres in North Vancouver

NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It doesn’t look like movies are coming back to the old Empire Theatres in North Vancouver anytime soon. A developer wants to replace the building with rental housing.

Cressey wants to build 75 rental suites, along with some ground floor retail, in a 10 storey building at the corner of Esplanade and Chesterfield.

“The theatre, as you know, had closed down and [Cineplex] got their new operation up-and-running over at Park Royal, so, it was time to look at another option,” explains Jason Turcotte, Vice President of Development at Cressey. “[It was] not a building that was conducive to really any other use other than a movie theatre, so we are proceeding with a rezoning for some rental housing.”

Cineplex shut down the multiplex in April when it opened a new 11 screen theatre at Park Royal in West Vancouver.

Turcotte believes more suites would be welcome in Lower Lonsdale. “Rental housing is one of those things that we need to continue to build and right now we’ve got an empty building,” he explains. “So, I don’t foresee it being a major hurdle in terms of garnering public support but, of course, we’re still subject to council’s approval, which we try not to ever take for granted.”

An information session is planned for Thursday September 19th at the Presentation House Theatre and Turcotte hopes for an official public hearing with the city before Christmas.

He figures, from start to finish, it would take two years to build. “Hopefully by midway through next year we would be well under construction and there is some desire from us and the partnership to begin demolition of the existing structure as soon as early in the New Year, so we obviously want to be ready to get rolling.”

Cressey was also behind Vancouver’s Arbutus Ridge development. While that project incorporated elements of the old Ridge theatre, Turcotte says there are no plans to have any nods to the old Empire Theatres in this development.

“There’s not anything that I’m aware of that sort of stands out as being particularly nostalgic or having some historical value, so at this point, no,” he admits.

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