A business plan to refurbish the old Paramount theatre to show classic films and more will be unveiled by Friends of the Chilliwack Paramount at a community meeting at the old Arts Centre on Monday.
“There has been lots of behind-the-scenes work happening since we were given the 90-day extension,” says Friends of the Paramount spokesperson Laura Reid. “We are very excited about the business plan.”
Extensive research was done by the group since March, analyzing similar business ventures before they narrowed in on a “model” they think will work in the downtown core.
“The Friends of the Paramount are confident their plan will be a catalyst to bring residents back downtown, not only to watch classic films, but to eat and shop, as well,” said Reid.
They still are seeking input and support from Chilliwack residents and businesses and are urging those interested to show up at the meeting.
“We’ll be asking the community to help us get the plan going,” Reid said.
The old Paramount has been boarded up since November 2010, when Landmark Cinemas gave the land and building to the City of Chilliwack.
The Friends group was granted a 90-day extension until June 21 under a new request for proposals to come up with a plan that would save the iconic downtown theatre from the wrecking ball.
Council warned when they were being asked to hold off on the demolition that there would be no city funds available to help with renovation and repair costs, which are expected to be in excess of $250,000.
To date a community group and a church have committed to using the theatre building, but further details about the plan will be revealed at the May 14 meeting on Henderson Avenue.
Some members of Friends of the Paramount got into the building this week and although there is obvious signs of decay, such as a leaking roof and ceiling tiles falling into the theatre, the art-deco influences are preserved.
“From the extruded aluminum handrails in the lobby to the stainless and glass streamlined light fixtures; the original charm still exists under the worn carpets and tired seats.
“In the upper lobby, what was the original ladies’ powder room, still sports its Douglas fir built-in lit vanity, where ladies would check their lipstick during intermission.”
Follow their progress at www.friendsofthechilliackparamount.com