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Roxy Theatre on the market, as Blue Bridge aims to reduce debt

Blue Bridge Theatre Society has put the Roxy Theatre — home to Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre since 2013 — up for sale. The 225-seat building at 2657 Quadra St. is listed with Colliers Canada for $1.49 million.
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Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre is selling the Roxy Theatre on Quadra Street to help pay down its debt. The building is listed at $1.49 million. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Blue Bridge Theatre Society has put the Roxy Theatre — home to Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre since 2013 — up for sale.

The 225-seat building at 2657 Quadra St. is listed with Colliers Canada for $1.49 million.

Blue Bridge says it decided to sell the former movie theatre and its accompanying land to reduce its debt, but the hope is that it leads to new opportunities for the 13-year-old professional theatre company.

“It could be extraordinarily positive if the right buyer comes along,” said Brian Richmond, Blue Bridge’s founding artistic director.

Richmond and Blue Bridge general manager Rebekah Johnson have been discussing scenarios for the site with developers in recent years, with the long-term goal of seeing a performing arts centre built in the Quadra Village at or near the Roxy site. “If [a sale] happens and we are able to make a new arts centre, that would be fantastic,” Richmond said. “I don’t see any negative to it, frankly.”

Johnson said Blue Bridge will continue staging productions at the Roxy until the completion of its 2021-22 season, which is a condition of sale.

“We want to get the word out that we’re solid and our current season will remain in place until the end of August 2022,” she said. “What happens after that? Until we know more, we just don’t know. But it’s not a wrecking-ball-tomorrow kind of situation. There is no plan where this will be the end of Blue Bridge — at all.”

A decision on the short-term future of Blue Bridge will likely be made around May, when the theatre company typically announces its new season, Johnson said.

One option is that Blue Bridge could remain at the Roxy under new management. The hope is that a dedicated performing arts venue will come to fruition in the Quadra Village, with Blue Bridge as a tenant, Johnson said.

“Everything is up in the air. There are several options post-sale.”

The Roxy is listed with agent Ty Whittaker of Colliers Canada, who also holds the listing for 2695 Quadra St., next door to the Roxy. The building, which currently houses the Salvation Army’s Stan Hagen Centre For Families, is for sale for $3.1 million. According to the Colliers Canada website, offers on both properties will be reviewed Dec. 15.

“We decided that the time was right to have it listed in conjunction,” Johnson said. “Both properties together are a better deal for a developer.”

It has been a topsy-turvy run for Blue Bridge at its current location, which the company purchased for $965,000 from businessman Michael Sharpe in 2013. Blue Bridge found itself on the verge of collapse in 2015, owing $160,000 to 68 unsecured creditors. An agreed-upon percentage of that debt was paid off by 2018.

The company carries an unspecified mortgage on the Quadra Street property with Calgary-based Montan Investment Corporation. The owners have generously waived the interest on the mortgage to help Blue Bridge stay on firm ground financially, said Richmond, adding the sale is motivated by the opportunity to sell the property in conjunction with the one next door, not pressure from the lenders.

Supporters with feedback on the potential sale can email Blue Bridge at thefuture@bluebridgetheatre.ca. The company said it will be scheduling a town hall meeting to discuss its future in early 2022.

mdevlin@timescolonist.com