Regent Theatre hits the market for $9 mil
Local councillor hopes the city can purchase the property and preserve it
The theatre at 551 Mount Pleasant Rd. near Belsize Drive
The possible sale of a landmark theatre in Midtown has the local councillor and residents worried the neighbourhood may forever lose one of its long-standing icons.
The Regent Theatre, at 551 Mount Pleasant Rd., first opened in 1927 and continues to show movies to this day, with an auditorium that can hold up to 500 people. The property was recently listed on the city’s heritage register and is now up for sale by the Sorokolit family. It is listed for $9 million with Colliers Macaulay Nicolls Inc., Brokerage.
Sharon Mourer, heritage chair of the South Eglinton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, said she would like to see the theatre preserved.
“The Regent has been a public asset for many years.… We would absolutely like it to remain in the public domain for all to enjoy,” she said. “The theatre has survived where so many others in the city haven’t; that alone deserves the respect of preservation.”
The building represents the work of Toronto architect Murray Brown, who was well-known for designing movie theatres across Canada.
Councillor Josh Matlow, of Ward 22, St. Paul’s, said he does not want to see the property scooped up by a developer and hopes the city can purchase it instead.
“In this case, because it’s a heritage property, I’m asking city staff through parks and recreation and economic development [departments] … if there is a feasible model we could look at … to keep it as a theatre but use it for the public interest,” said Matlow. “It’s expensive. So there’d have to be a model where we could be sure there would be cost recovery.”
The scenario Matlow has proposed would keep the theatre active, while also using the building for events such as weddings, bar or bat mitzvahs and community programming. In the meantime, he said he’s heard the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto at St. Clair Avenue West and Avenue Road has also considered purchasing it.
Karen Dunk-Green, chair of the church’s real estate task force, confirmed that the church has looked at the property, alongside other sites. The church building has been put up for sale, and she said the congregation is in the process of finding a larger facility to relocate to.
“We visited [the Regent Theatre] because we know that it’s on the market, but that’s really all I can say,” she said.
One way or another, Matlow said he intends to keep an eye on the property and suspects many buyers will come forward.
“It’s emblematic. Mount Pleasant wouldn’t look like Mount Pleasant without it,” he said. “Whether it be a church or a guy who is going to build a condo, somebody’s going to buy it.”
Owners Dawn and Dan Sorokolit did not return requests for comment by press time.