KELOWNA- When it first opened, the population of Kelowna was barely 8,000.
But now, after almost 70 years of showing films, the Paramount Theatre is about to roll its final credits.
One of Bernard Avenue’s longest-standing businesses will be closing its doors this spring after the property was sold to a development company.
The Paramount triplex was first opened in June 1949 to a very different Kelowna. While there is still no exact time frame for the change, the theatre is saying they’ll be out of the space before their 67th birthday.
Alberta-based Ronmor Developments purchased the space. They confirmed Thursday that they had plans for the building to be turned into Paramount Courts, a retail space with room for a restaurant. They also say the new name leaves them the opportunity to keep the well known sign erected; something the City says is very possible.
“The applicant and the property owners agree with the importance of that sign, so we’re going to try to see if we can make it work,” says Terry Barton from the City of Kelowna. “A lot of people enjoy seeing the sign…it resonates with them.”
Barton says he believes the theatre closure is just another step in the downtown core’s revitalization.
“The downtown has gone through quite a bit of change over the last decade or so. There’s a lot more interest and a lot more vitality. The restaurants scene is a lot stronger, there’s a lot more cafes, a lot more entertainment places…it’s a lot different than it was 20 or 30 years ago.”
Landmark Cinemas, which currently owns Paramount, said that nearby theatres made it hard to sell tickets to Paramount’s predominantly independent films, and the departure is strictly a “business decision.”
Landmark assures that all employees will be offered jobs at its other two Okanagan theatres: 8 Xtreme in West Kelowna and Grand 10 in Kelowna.