Star Cinema owner Sandy Oliver holds up a bag of fresh popcorn. The Sidney movie theatre will get a new, larger and more modern location if plans to redevelop the corner of 3rd Street and Sidney Avenue are approved by the municipality. (File)

Sidney’s Star Cinema part of new development plan

Theatre space would increase in proposed Cameo, a 45-unit mixed use condo development

Sidney’s Star Cinema will get a new, larger, more modern space if a proposed condo development gains traction in the municipality.

Within the next few days, Casman Properties of Alberta is expected to submit a development permit application to the Town of Sidney for its Cameo project. It’s a mixed-use building, including 45 residential units, movie theatre space for up to three screens and two additional commercial units on the ground floor, at the corner of 3rd Street and Sidney Avenue.

Kyle Shick, project manager with Finlayson Bonet Architecture over seeing the Cameo for the developer, says the proposal’s footprint includes three existing buildings – the Star Cinema, Good Fortune Restaurant and the nearby laundromat — and is approximately 18,000 square feet. The laundromat has been vacant for some time, Shick said, and the owner of the restaurant is in the process of relocating. All three structures will be demolished.

Shick said the developer recognized early on that its vital to keep Sidney’s only movie theatre.

“The developer recognizes the value that Star Cinema has,” he said, adding Finlayson Bonet made it clear when they first started working with Casman Properties on this, that they needed to include it, aware that simply cutting it out would have caused a significant backlash.

“We didn’t want to have anyone against this development by not including Star Cinema. The developer recognized that and has said they will help maintain the operations of the theatre.”

Shick said they are working with Star Cinema owner Sandy Oliver to find a temporary location where they can still operate while the new space is being built. That, he said, will ensure there’s no loss of service to the community and a buzz can be built about its new location — which would likely be further down the block along 3rd Street.

The Star Cinema has worked hard to survive as a small, independent movie house, raising money in the community within the last five years to upgrade its existing two theatres and add digital projectors.

Shick said plans are to add more reception and concession space, a covered waiting area and up to three screens in a new Star Cinema.

In 2016, a similar development was proposed for the same block. That one included the Army Navy and Air Force Veterans Association building, but whose membership rejected the plan and it subsequently failed. Shick said the ANAVETS building is not included in this proposal.

The Cameo will have 45 residential units, Shick said, from studio to three-bedroom condos. The ground floor’s main commercial space will be the theatre, with two smaller spaces for retail or professional use. Discussions on whether the building will include affordable units, Shick added, is part of ongoing negotiations with the municipality.

He said the application will go to the Town soon with an eye on getting a development permit in place by early 2018, with demolition and construction starting later next spring. Shick admitted that’s optimistic.

The Cameo, if successful, would be the second new development along 3rd Street to essentially revitalize the block. The Marker Group’s The Meridian was completed earlier this year. As well, the municipality itself is selling their existing fire hall and nearby parking lot, which would lead to redevelopment of that site. The fire department and BC Ambulance Service (also located in the same block) will be moving to Sidney’s new community safety building, currently under construction south of the Mary Winspear Centre.

Casman Properties is active in the area, as the developer of Regatta Park, a condo development currently under construction on MacDonald Park Road in North Saanich. They are also building The Otto, a condo and townhouse project at Quadra and McKenzie streets in Saanich.

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