An offer has been accepted for a local not-for-profit to buy Hamilton's historic Westdale Theatre with the goal of keeping the movie theatre in operation.
Terms of the deal have been accepted between the current owners and the Westdale Cinema Group, which includes film producer Fred Fuchs, Jeremy Freiburger of CoBalt Connects, History and Heritage owner Graham Crawford, and former Valley City Manufacturing owner Bob Crockford.
Both parties are currently in the due diligence stage, but should everything shake out, the Westdale will continue to live on as a local theatre. Representatives from the group could not immediately be reached for comment.
"I'm very happy that a not-for-profit, idealistic buyer has secured ownership of the cinema," said Ward 1 Coun. Aidan Johnson.
"Now, the trick is ensuring that the building can be properly preserved with its heritage features respected, and that a good sustainable plan can be created to ensure the Westdale can continue to thrive as a place for art and community."
The deal for the theatre is coming in at around $1.8 million, but sources say the building needs about another million dollars for renovations, for things like new seats, fixing the roof, and updating technology.
Johnson says that as soon as the theatre went up for sale at the end of last year, his office got dozens of phone calls and emails from Hamiltonians saying they wanted him to do anything possible to save the cinema.
He says he is helping the theatre group connect with any available grant funding to help both with heritage preservation and programming development.
A potential point of controversy on the theatre is Johnson's desire to have some of the theatre's potential upgrades included on Ward 1's participatory budgeting list, though it was inserted on the list to be voted on for that program after its deadline cutoff for submissions.
Johnson says that was only the case because the theatre didn't go up for sale until after that window closed.