The city of Montreal has agreed in principle to begin some of the work on an $11-million restoration project on the Empress Theatre in Notre-Dame-de-Grace, Empress board members said Tuesday.

The board members say the city has agreed to repair the roof and the electrical system on the Sherbrooke St. W landmark, which have both significantly deteriorated.

Built in 1928, the former Cinema V has long been treasured for both its colourful façade, and its colourful history, including burlesque and vaudeville performances.

The theatre is now begging for renovations, the biggest concern being water infiltration resulting from a leaking roof and corroded pipes.

Board members said they attempted to keep the roof from falling apart, but ran in to several stumbling blocks.

"We had the roof done and the roofer proved to be incompetent and then went bankrupt on us, so we were operating on donations and city money. We ended up losing about $100,000," said board member Arnold Bennett.

City won't foot the full bill

The government of Quebec rejected a request for funding last year, and city officials said they won't foot the entire bill to restore the theatre.

"Everyone wants something to happen, but there has to be some other levels of government financing as well. The city can't do everything on its own," said city spokesperson Darren Becker.

Opposition councillor for the NDG district Peter McQueen agrees.

"I think a larger entity with larger resources and more expertise is needed to seal up the building," he said.