Hope on the horizon for Empress Theatre: International partner drafts letter of intent
Published Tuesday, October 10, 2017 8:12PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 10, 2017 8:13PM EDT
Those concerned about the derelict Empress Theatre on Sherbrooke St. in NDG will take comfort in the fact that benefactors are actively working to set in a motion a plan to restore the space.
In fact, the Empress Theatre Foundation announced Tuesday that it had obtained a letter of intent from an “important” partner, and together the organizations will submit a new business plan for the theatre by the end of the month.
The partner in question, European firm MK2, specializes in the revitalization of dilapidated movie theatres in Europe.
“What changed was having a worldwide, recognized group like MK2 coming on board to help make this happen with us,” explained Kim Fuller of the Empress Theatre Foundation. “They even design their own seats for their cinemas—they have their ticketing offices, they have their popcorn machines—with them, it’s a clé en main type of partner to have for this.”
The plan is to redesign the Empress to fit a total of 880 seats in five rooms, screening films in both English and French, as well as foreign films with subtitles.
The final design has a dedicated space for a restaurant or bar, a coffee shop with rooftop access, and five full cinemas.
The incoming business plan would also posit that the borough of NDG donate the theatre to the Empress Theatre Foundation, a non-profit.
Foundation members believe the project will cost anywhere in the neighborhood of $10 to $12 million.
Just last week, a community group called Friends of the Empress put out a call for ideas or proposals for how to make use of the untended space.
The theatre, built in 1927, has stood empty for the last 25 years, after a fire gutted its insides and rendered it unusable.