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Future of Paramount Theatre building in Chilliwack still uncertain

The old Paramount Theatre may be facing the wrecking ball in downtown Chilliwack. Council was forced to disqualify the only two respondents to submit proposals for redevelopment. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE
The old Paramount Theatre may be facing the wrecking ball in downtown Chilliwack. Council was forced to disqualify the only two respondents to submit proposals for redevelopment.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE

The old Paramount Theatre building in downtown Chilliwack may not be able to escape the wrecking ball for too much longer.

The lights and heat were turned off earlier this month at the site just east of Five Corners.

Then on Monday, the only two RFP respondents to submit redevelopment ideas were disqualified by city council on the basis of non-compliant proposals.

One came from Revolution Church, and the other was from Protocol Developments.

"We were disappointed that there weren't more proposals coming forward, but not surprised," said Mayor Sharon Gaetz. "It's difficult to make the financial case for saving the Paramount."

The terms of the RFP were explicit in that no city funds were going to be made available to "upgrade, renovate" or bring the dilapidated building up to code, so the burden would be on the respondents to undertake the improvements.

Estimates are pegged at $150,000 to $300,000 to bring the building up to provincial standards required for occupancy.

The groups had to identify the financial means and specific expertise they had which would allow them to upgrade the building with an eye to establishing a long-term lease arrangement.

But when the city's evaluation team reviewed both proposals recently, it determined that neither "included appropriate management and financial plans" and therefore did not meet the requirements of the RFP.

Paramount Theatre owners originally donated the historic building to the city, and there had been hope for revitalization or redevelopment of the site.

At this point there may only be one or two options left.

"The last thing we want to do is demolish," Gaetz said. "It seems sad since the building was a longtime fixture in our community."

Either they will proceed with a demolition order after consulting with Chilliwack Economic Partners Corp. officials or an entirely new proposal process would have to be initiated if a viable project were to suddenly come forward.

"There may be an additional proposal in the wings. But we'll have to see if it pans out," said Gaetz.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/CHWKjourno

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