Paramount Theatre demolition on hold, tenants told

After confirming the demolition with CBC News last week, Procura hand-delivered a letter to affected businesses on Thursday stating that the building won’t be coming down in the near future.
The Paramount Theatre, opened in 1952, was set to be demolished to make way for a residential tower downtown. (CBC)

Plans to demolish the building containing the old Paramount Theatre on Jasper Avenue appear to be on hold.

Sherry Schluessel , a senior managing partner with Calgary-based ProCura confirmed to CBC News last week that the theatre was being demolished to make way for a residential tower that stretched most of the block.

Paramount Theatre demolition plan shocks Remedy Cafe owner

On Thursday, ProCura hand-delivered a letter to affected businesses stating that the building will not be coming down in the near future and that tenants will be the first to know if a teardown goes ahead.

Schluessel said development at the Paramount Theatre site is currently not a priority for ProCura.

“Our focus right now is Mayfair Village North and the Central Tower at Century Park,” she said. After that, Schluessel said the company would reevaluate the demand of the project at the Paramount Theatre.

ProCura told CBC News the demolition could take place anywhere between two and five years - but that timeline could possibly change depending on market demand.

“We can’t build something when the markets shift,” said Schluessel. “We have to look at what the supply is, what the demand is, at the time that we’re ready to pull the plug.”

Last week, the owner of the popular Remedy Cafe, Zee Zaidi, didn’t know about Procura’s plan until he was told about it by CBC News.

On Thursday, he expressed relief that Remedy gets to continue in its current spot.

"So very happy. No more sad,” he said. “We're going to keep Remedy alive here."

But several doors down at The Hat, owner Mike Bhatnagar was concerned about a lack of a timeline.

“Are we talking about two years, five years, ten years, next year?” he asked.  “For business, the continuity, the stability —​ these are the most important parts."

Although it may possibly be a few years away, the plan is that, eventually, the Paramount Theatre will come down.

“If it does happen, it means we are truly revitalizing the downtown core,” said Schluessel. “If that product has the ability to be absorbed, that’s a great thing for Edmonton… That’s what everyone it truly looking at, the revitalization of the downtown core.”

Built by Famous Players and opened in 1951, the Paramount showed top movies for more than 50 years. In 2003, it was sold with plans to turn it into a venue for live shows and special events.

In recent years, it has been home to the City Centre Church which now plans to move to a new location.

With files from the CBC's Andrea Huncar


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