Save the Pantages!

Incredibly, after surviving for almost 100 years, and after being the centerpiece of an amazing community-based restoration project that will help revitalize the Downtown Eastside, the Pantages Theatre is in grave danger of being demolished, due to a stunningly wrongheaded decision by City Council. Your emails and letters are VITAL at this dangerous juncture for a civic jewel. Below is the letter I just sent to my personal mailing list, and as well, here is a CTV report that just aired yesterday outlining some of the history of the theatre.  
  I write this with both sadness and great urgency, as I’ve been involved with the Pantages Theatre project in my own small way for some time. After spending considerable money to hold and maintain the building and adjoining properties (necessary for a fully-functioning and modern theatre), the Pantages’ owner has been forced by the actions of City Council to put all of the properties up for sale. The FOR SALE signs are now posted. Barring a change from the city, it’s presumed that this irreplaceable heritage and community structure will be destroyed. The Pantages was to be the linchpin of an incredible revitalization and restoration project in the heart of the Downtown Eastside. Countless individuals have worked tirelessly to make this happen. And yet now, unless great pressure is promptly applied to a misguided and ineffective city council, the Pantages will be destroyed. Instead of saving a unique Vancouver treasure and energizing a community, we’ll get… more condos. Ugh. This is due to a stunningly wrong-headed decision by council. Instead of proceeding with plans that would have allowed the developer to move forward, they have voted instead to do another bloody “feasability study”. The building will probably not be there any more once any such study is done. This project has on board an enlightened developer, the solid support of community and arts groups plus local business, and a meticulous business plan. The Pantages is mentioned in the city’s own plans for cultural and civic restoration of the neighbourhood. This project IS FEASIBLE and that fact is known by council. The city just sent out an absurd smokescreen of a press release announcing the study as if it were a great achievement, not the death knell for the theatre. Notably, the release was not attributed to any elected official. They know the wrath of the voters is powerful! Luckily, council is about to face those very voters – YOU. Write them today and let them know exactly what this decision, if not reversed, means in that context. It’s important that the backlash from this idiotic decision be prompt and forceful. Please send the mayor and city councilors an email stating that you support the plans to restore the theatre and you urge the city to come to some arrangements with the current owner to ensure that the theatre is restored. It couldn’t hurt to remind them that your support on election day is dependent on their response. Email mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca – and please cc to cb0bc@yahoo.com so the Pantages people can have a copy of your email for their records. Here’s some of what Peter Fairchild, chairman of the Pantages Theatre Arts Society, wrote earlier this week:
You might want to note that the Pantages Project is a unique opportunity to do something extraordinary at Hastings and Main, for the people of Vancouver, and for heritage and the arts. There is ? literally ? nothing else like it in the City. And never will be again. As you know, this century old theatre seats 650, offers a glorious acoustic, now has a Chinatown entrance at 127 East Pender, would have provided new lobbies and public amenities, an art gallery, and so much more. In the last three years, over 2000 people have been shown its wonders and promise. You saw and heard what was possible. The Pantages Project would also have included 130+ units of housing next door. So much good might have been done. Permit me to quote the owner: “We tried for over three years to find a financially viable proposal that would satisfy the many interests at stake. Ultimately, we could not. The Pantages was a very powerful idea. The theatre, the housing, the retail businesses ? the combination was extraordinary. I was proud to have been a part of it. I am so disappointed we could not make it work.” If we have any chance to reverse the City’s decision, it will now ONLY happen with the strongest support you can offer. Today. We’ve tried everything else.
Please email your letter of support for the Pantages today – a strong show of support and protest of the current situation is the last chance this project has. Adam Further reading This week’s Georgia Straight: http://www.straight.com/article-166967/pantages-theatre-plans-crumble History of the theatre: http://www.vancouverpantages.com/history/aboutPantages.html Renovation plan: http://www.vancouverpantages.com/restoration/intro.html

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