Council releases plans of what Paramount Theatre could look like as a hotel
Wellington's oldest theatre, the Paramount on Courtenay Place, could be looking at a makeover come September.
The future of the category II heritage building became uncertain earlier this year, after Paramount cinema operators CPL Limited announced they would not be renewing their lease.
A resource consent application was granted last year to alter the building for residential use, but no definite plans for the building's future exist at this stage.
However, Wellington City Council (WCC) has now released plans which show what the proposed hotel or apartment building could look like.
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The plans propose extensive alterations to the interior, as well as some changes to the exterior.
WCC says although the building is listed as a heritage site, the classification only applies to the 'landmark exterior facade' of the building.
As part of the resource consent process, it noted that a conservation plan did not exist for the building, but was required by Heritage New Zealand.
Paramount theatre property manager Richard Alan Blundell did not confirm whether a conservation plan has been made since the resource consent application was granted.
"We did a lot of work with Historic Places Trust [now Heritage New Zealand] when we restored and partially strengthened the building in 2004. It was established at that time there was already very little of the original fabric/features remaining," Blundell says.
Wellington Film Society president Chris Hormann says the society is currently in discussions with WCC and other community groups about the cinema's future.
"I'm reluctant to go into the details of these discussions as they are still in progress."
The society has been approached by individuals, community organisations and a crowdfunding body who are keen to assist with retaining the Paramount as a Wellington venue.
"Wellington is widely publicised as the arts and culture capital of New Zealand by our council and we have a situation where a central city venue used by many arts and culture, as well as community groups is potentially going to be out of commission," Hormann says.
The society, whose 2017 programme is scheduled to screen at the Paramount until November, has begun to consider options for affected screenings.
Lambton ward city councillor Nicola Young says the council has very limited options to preserve the cinema, but is always happy to have a dialogue with the community.
"It's a great facility but we don't own it … I hope we can find a solution, I just don't know what it is."