News / Vancouver

Vancouver's Rio Theatre launches petition to save landmark

Owner worries new landlord could tear down iconic theatre for development

Corrine Lea, owner of the Rio Theatre, at the East Vancouver business and 80-year-old cinema on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018 after news the building's for sale by her landlord went public.

David P. Ball / Metro

Corrine Lea, owner of the Rio Theatre, at the East Vancouver business and 80-year-old cinema on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018 after news the building's for sale by her landlord went public.

The owner of East Vancouver's beloved Rio Theatre is asking supporters to help her buy the land the cinema sits on in order to save the 1930s building from being torn down.

The landlord put the lot on sale last week but has given owner Corinne Lea until Tuesday to come up with a 'market value' offer for the land.

A petition supporting the Rio Theatre garnered 8,000 signatures in 24 hours, according to Lea.

BC Assessment lists the property, near the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station, at $4 million. The community health building across the street is valued at $36 million, and the Rio's adjacent property is worth $12 million.

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In a letter to Rio supporters, Lea says she, along with a few investors, are preparing an offer but needs the community's support to help the current landowners understand how important the theatre is to the city.

"We do not want the Rio’s future to be in the hands of a developer that doesn’t understand the cultural needs of our community. Although we are not opposed to sustainable development if it becomes necessary in the future, we want to ensure the spirit of The Rio survives."

Lea has eight more years left on the Rio's lease but has said she worries a new property owner would pressure the theatre to cut it short in order to re-develop the block.

The area is zoned for 10 storeys.

With files from David P. Ball

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