Midtown’s Regent Theatre has been conditionally sold. The theatre, located at 551 Mount Pleasant Rd., is listed for sale at $7.4 million, which Patrick Cowie, sales representative at Colliers International, said is for the property, not the business.
The theatre opened as the Belsize Theatre in 1927 and has operated as a local movie house and live theatre for most of its existence. The marquee on the building facade and the architectural styling of the building are representative of the work of architect Murray Brown, who designed movie theatres across Canada and was among those chosen by the federal public works department to design small-scaled public works during the Great Depression.
It was listed on the City of Toronto’s heritage register in 1984 and in 2017 was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act alongside the nearby Mount Pleasant theatre, located at 675 Mount Pleasant Rd.
It’s currently closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Cowie said that selling a movie theatre amidst COVID-19 was challenging.
“People looking to buy this are looking through COVID. People buy real estate for a long period of time,” said Cowie, who could not comment on the buyer or the buyer’s future plans for the property. “So they are looking past the pandemic and what the long- term viability is.”
Cowie said it is unlikely the property will be torn down to make way for a condo building.
“It’s partly because there is a heritage designation on it, so I think it would be quite impossible to knock it down.”
Designation under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act means that demolition or alteration of the building’s heritage attributes needs the approval of Toronto City Council.
The building was previously listed for sale three years ago for $9 million. At the time, councillor Josh Matlow, who had advocated for the site’s heritage designation, had asked city staff to see if there was a feasible model where the city could purchase the building and operate it as a theatre and event site on a cost recovery model.
Matlow called the theatre emblematic and said that Mount Pleasant would not look like Mount Pleasant without it.