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Sunday, October 21, 2007

News: Curtains for the York

A campaign to save the old York Theatre on Commercial Drive was cut short when an unnamed buyer snapped the property up on October 5. Located at 639 Commercial Drive, the 470-seat theatre had been on the market since last fall for an asking price of $952,000. Tom Durrie , former general manager of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, had been spearheading a campaign to save the purpose-built theatre, which was known for most of its 94-year history as the York Theatre and run as the Raja Cinema from 1996 to 2006.

"According to the realtor, a very solid offer came in suddenly," Durrie told the Straight . "There were no subjects and bang, that was it."

The identity of the new owners will become public once they have been registered with the B.C. Land Registry, which could take up to four months. The theatre property is zoned multiple dwelling with the theatre use grandfathered in. Despite its historic role in Vancouver's theatre scene, the structure is not registered as a heritage site.

"I think it's tragic.…I find there's been a very weak response from the city regarding the issue of historic theatres," Don Luxton , president of Heritage Vancouver, told the Straight . In an ironic twist, the sale occurred the day after Durrie and Luxton took part in a public forum called The Future of Theatre in Vancouver, concerning the city's lack of theatre space.

Calls to the city's heritage department were not returned by press time.

> Jessica Werb

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