The show will go on as Star Cinema shifts only two blocks during construction of its new building.
The theatre moves 9824 Fifth St., the site of a former furniture store, while the new six-storey Cameo building by Casman Properties goes up on Third Street.
Margie Shenduk, director of operations for Casman, said they have been searching for a temporary space for over a year, and “nothing really obvious was jumping out.” They searched for an affordable space, in the Sidney town centre, with high ceilings to accommodate a large screen. Downtown Sidney’s typical commercial spaces are between 1,000-1,500 sq. ft. with low ceilings, said Shenduk, which was too small.
Theatre owner Sandy Oliver said she was relieved, and that the timing “couldn’t be better.”
“It’s just really, really exciting. It the most suitable [space] we’ve actually seen in all this time,” said Oliver, who said she looked at the same space a year ago. “It’s nice to be out of limbo.”
Their temporary space is owned by Stephen Weller, a candidate for Sidney council. He said he first met Shenduk at an affordable housing forum hosted at the Star Cinema in September. He had a space that was empty for several months, and he approached Shenduk through the Town. “It was a handshake deal, and it was done,” said Weller.
Weller said it is an open-ended lease at a below-market rate, which was required to make the project viable.
As a developer, Shenduk said Casman’s challenge with the new Cameo building was not a technical one relating to structure or soil. Instead, it was living up to the community’s expectations for a theatre they feel passionate about. Because of this, there are many more people involved in decision making, which has allowed a newer developer like Casman to meet many key community members. Oliver invited Shenduk to the affordable housing forum, which introduced her to Weller. Without that, she said the deal would not have been done.
“It’s really broadened our reach in the community as well. The project is bigger than just a condo building,” said Shenduk.
Theatre manager Lindsay Pomper said patrons are passionate and feel a sense of ownership of their local theatre.
“Everybody who walks through the door, they say, ‘have you found a place for us yet?’” said Pomper.
The Town of Sidney has expedited the process, and worked much faster than other municipalities in reducing red tape, said Shenduk.
Shenduk said demolition of the old Star Cinema will likely take place in December, but the transition date is not yet known. They promise “very little interruption” and plan to finish moving in time for the busy holiday season. They will repurpose whatever they can, including moving the existing seats (funded by the community) into the temporary location. The temporary space will require renovations and additions, including new heating, air conditioning, a washroom and darker paint on the walls. It will be cleared out by the end of October, with a liquidation sale of furniture scheduled for Saturday.
“We’re trying to keep it bare minimum, while understanding that it must be a functional theatre,” said Shenduk.