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Dolphin looking for alternative site

It might be curtains for the Dolphin at its staple location on Hastings Street, but the theatre could eventually pop up at a different site in the future. Although being at 4555 Hastings St.

It might be curtains for the Dolphin at its staple location on Hastings Street, but the theatre could eventually pop up at a different site in the future.

Although being at 4555 Hastings St. for the past five decades, Dolphin Cinemas operator Rahim Manji says he wants to review other spots in the city for a new Dolphin site.

"Moving forward, I will be looking at alternative locations to reopen the Dolphin theatre in Burnaby," Manji said in a statement to the Burnaby NOW. "I would like to reiterate my appreciation to the property owner and the entire community for their support over the years, and I look forward to being a part of the community again in the very near future."

Manji has operated the theatre for the past two-and-a-half years, and said it's only been a good experience, but has not been an economic success lately.

"Throughout my time in this community, I have received great support from my neighbours as well as the property owner, especially in the form of rental concessions, building improvements and reductions in operating costs," he said. "Despite their goodwill and my best efforts, as well as the support I have received from the community, over the last couple of years it has become clear that even if I were to pay below market rent, I will not be able to operate the cinema profitably at this location."

At its Monday night meeting, Burnaby council gave first reading to a rezoning bylaw that would lead to the Dolphin's demolition.

The rezoning bylaw for the theatre will go to public hearing on May 28, and after that, if the developer meets its prerequisites, it could be demolished any time after the bylaw receives third reading or final adoption.

The Dolphin can continue to operate until the rezoning bylaw for 4555 Hastings St. receives third reading.

According to Chris Dikeakos, the architect representing the property owners, the theatre is no longer commercially viable.

"The landscape in the movie industry is changing and will need to upgrade cinema facilities to accommodate the shift to digitization in the movie theatre business," Dikeakos said in a statement to the NOW. "When coupled with the economic pressures related to the current cinema location, it is no longer viable to continue the operation of the theatre. As such, the owners have made an application to the City of Burnaby to rezone the property according to the general guidelines for the area, and including a special floor for disabled housing."

Heights Entertainment - which is comprised of three local investors, including Sheldon and Marie Scott - owns the property.

The proposed site will have retail units on the bottom floor facing Hastings Street, 11 accessible rental units on the second storey for the Vancouver Resources Society and 20 units of market housing on the third and fourth storeys, according to a city staff report.

The market housing will offer two studio units at 399 square feet; 12 one-bedroom units, ranging from 603 to 660 sq. ft.; and five two-bedroom units, which will range from 930 to 994 sq. ft.

"Our proposed development is consistent with the intent of the Hastings Street area plan and is similar in built form to other nearby developments recently constructed or proposed under similar zoning," Dikeakos said.

The Vancouver Resources Society is a not-for-profit and will purchase the 11 units slated for accessible rental housing when the proposal gets its final stamp of approval from council.

"(The society) is very excited about the project proposed at 4555 Hastings St. in Burnaby," said Ken Fraser, the society's executive director. "We have expressed our formal interest and intent to the property owner to purchase 11 units, an entire floor, in this proposed development."

The independent living shared-care model includes an entire floor of a residential development, made up of six to 12 units, and a small unit for 24 hour onsite staff.

"This model allows persons living with complex medical needs to live independently in their own condominium, instead of in an institution or hospital setting," Fraser said.