Saint John's old Paramount Theatre may get an encore performance by transforming into a multi-purpose performing arts facility.

A consultant hired by Uptown Saint John said the former King's Square cinema, which has been vacant since 2005, could make enough money to pay for itself.

But the organization first has to come up with $3.6 million to buy and renovate the building.

Larry Cain, the consultant hired to study the future options for the theatre, said the venue could welcome musical performances, theatre performances and screenings of independent films.

The business plan calls for a 350-seat theatre, a larger theatre with no fixed seating and a foyer area.

Cain said Saint John needs a new arts and culture venue that's smaller than the Imperial Theatre, which seats 900 people, but bigger than other ones.

"This isn't about taking market share away from others, it's really about growing the size of the sector in the community," Cain said.

Cain said the old theatre could also be used for corporate meetings, university lectures and a place to show tourists interpretive videos about the region.

The foyer could become an upscale cafe with a patio.

Government funds sought

Peter Asimakos, the general manager for Uptown Saint John, said it will cost about $3.6 million to buy and renovate the building that's been vacant for five years.

The facility needs a new roof and ventilation system, as well as furniture and other fixtures.

"Professional fundraisers have told us that if you can get the different levels of government on side then you'll be able to get the private sector on side," Asimakos said.

Asimakos said if all goes well, the old theatre could reopen its doors in about two years.

Meanwhile, Uptown Saint John is paying the building's owner an undisclosed monthly fee for the facility.