Movieplex could reel into Masonville
By Becky Somerville
Proposals for a new movie theatre at Masonville Place are in the works, despite some concern that it may steal business from the downtown core.
Chuck Parker, senior planner for the City of London planning department, said a site plan application was submitted by the Cadillac-Fairview Corporation Limited in late Sept. 21.
The proposal was to demolish the site of the former Loblaws at Masonville and develop a 12-screen Famous Players cinema, Parker said.
He added the city has implemented a series of initiatives to restrict entertainment facilities to the downtown areas in an effort to revitalize the area. A by-law delegates 10 per cent of the gross floor area of a mall to entertainment areas, Parker said.
Both a site plan and a building permit must be approved by the city, Parker said. He added the proposal by Cadillac-Fairview was within the 10 per cent outlined in the by-law. "In terms of zoning by-laws they should be okay," he said.
Mark Henderson, landscape planner for the city's department of planning and development, said any redevelopment of a site or new building which increases development is subject to site-plan approval. The process takes four to six weeks, he said.
General manager for Cadillac-Fairview, Kevin Gray, said they are still speaking with the city about the plans for the new theatre and at this point nothing has been finalized. "There are still further talks to take place before any decisions can be made," he said.
Gray would not comment on the effect the proposed theatre would have on the Masonville area. "Until a final decision is made, it is probably best for me not to discuss it at this time," he said.
Victor Cote, commissioner of planning and development for the city, said a new movie theatre at Masonville would have a significant impact on the downtown area.
He added university students are an important part of the downtown area and are being drawn to Masonville instead. "[A new theatre would] remove foot traffic from the downtown area.
"The feeling is that this would be very detrimental to the ability of the revitalization of the downtown area," Cote said.
District supervisor for Cineplex Odeon, Tony Card, would not comment on the impact of the proposed theatres on downtown London. "We have no comment on that right now," he said.
Michelle Reid, a third-year food and nutrition student at Brescia, did not believe the new theatres would pose a threat to the downtown core, but admits many students would probably attend the new theatres. "A lot of students live in that area," she said. "It would be convenient."