The Nelson Downtown Athletic Club is disappointed but not surprised by the news of the extension to the request for proposal for the Civic Theatre.
The Athletic Club presented their proposal to city council on March 19.
“We’re really pleased with the response from council at the committee of the whole meeting [last month],” said Pat Hodgson with the Athletic Club. “We’ve had lots of positive response from people in the community.”
Another group came forward this week expressing their interest in putting in a proposal for the theatre.
“We fully expected as part of this process some groups would step forward to save the theatre,” Hodgson said. “That was not unexpected from our standpoint. We’re a little disappointed that the city decided to extend the request for proposal process, but not necessarily surprised by that.”
The new group is hoping to form a non-profit society to hopefully return the Civic to a theatre.
Cindy Sherry, who is with the group, was inspired by the Salmar Community Association who runs the Salmon Arm movie theatres as a non-profit organization.
Hodgson said the group knows that the city would prefer to keep the Civic Theatre as a movie theatre, but added the cost involved in restoring the facility to a theatre is daunting.
“If the choice is between a first run theatre and our proposal, we think it’s a slam dunk because even given the extension I don’t think anybody with any business sense is going to step forward with $2 million to turn that into a four-plex, which is sort of the minimum requirement for a movie theatre in today’s economic climate,” he said. “We think that our proposal had a lot of merit and we hope that the decision is based on merit and not on emotion.”
The Downtown Athletic Club has emphasized that their proposal is of no cost to the city.
“I hope that the message gets out to the community that our proposal is essentially of no cost to the city,” said Hodgson. “We’re not looking for subsidy from the city. We would expect that same criteria to apply to any other group looking to utilize that building.”
The Downtown Athletic Club is proposing that the Civic Theatre be converted into a facility that would include a climbing wall, squash courts and other recreational amenties.
The new deadline for the request for proposal is May 31.