Windsor

Cineplex closing at Walker Road SilverCity site, landlord says building could be destroyed

With the lease soon to expire on the SilverCity Windsor Cinemas site on Walker and Provincial Roads, the landlord says he is hoping people speak up to save it as the company, according to him, does not plan to renew its agreement.  

SilverCity Windsor Cinemas holds a 3,000-seat theatre and sits on a 17,000-square-foot lot.

The building would have to be torn down if Cineplex doesn't stay or Landmark Cinemas doesn't move in. (Submitted by Joe Mikhail)

Cineplex is closing its Walker Road location which is leaving the landlord with very few options but to destroy the building and seek out a new use for the site.

"This type of decision is not taken lightly," a statement from the company said about its decision to not renew the lease.

The 3,000-seat theatre sits on a 17,000-square-foot lot and it was built about 25 years ago. It is currently closed due to pandemic restrictions and Cineplex recently temporarily laid off thousands of employees due to pandemic closures.

But in this case, the company said their decision was not based on the closures.

"Based on pre-pandemic attendance levels, it was clear that movie-lovers in Windsor were gravitating toward the newer amenities at our nearby Cineplex Odeon Devonshire Mall Cinemas location.," the statement read.

"This theatre offers enhanced movie experiences."

Single purpose build

"Our point as landlords is what does one do with a theatre that is built for one use and one use only," Joe Mikhail, who leases the property to Cineplex.

He said that since the building was built with a single purpose in mind, if he can't convince Cineplex to stay, the costs to repurpose the building are prohibitive and it would have to be destroyed.

Developer Joe Mikhail leases the site on Walker Road to Cineplex. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"I think each one of us here recognize [the Walker Road location] as we drive into Windsor," Mikhail said.

"Unfortunately they've decided they want to vacate that spot and leave Windsor-Essex County with a population base of over 500,000 people to one theatre."

He said that he waived a considerable amount of costs for the business during the pandemic.

"We took a huge hit, hoping to help them out but unfortunately the industry is what it is and they can only do what they can do," he said. 

Mikhail said he also had an expressed interest from Landmark Cinemas before the pandemic -- one he would like to see renewed.

"They'd like a presence here but right now, with what happened with COVID, they're sitting tight now."

Landmark Cinemas was not available for immediate comment.

Has remained challenged

Mikhail said the complex has been open when it could be over the past couple of years but has remained challenged throughout the pandemic.

"People are still reluctant to go back in," he said. "I think they will come back multiple amounts of time once we're over this COVID."

Mikhail believes that if the theatre remains, people will eventually come back.

"Once we feel safe, people want to have that theatre experience." 

Mikhail is reaching out to the public asking for cinema-goers to contact both Cineplex to ask for them to consider staying and Landmark Cinemas to ask them to consider moving in.

"I guess I'm reaching out here and saying... 'can this community support a second theatre, and if so, let's have our voices heard.'"

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.

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