Local church group revamping old Clova theatre in Surrey

Local church group revamping old Clova theatre in Surrey

CLOVERDALE — The group that bought the Clova Cinema’s building back in March is looking to revamp the 67-year-old venue now that the theatre has closed its doors.

Owner of the Clova Cinema, Craig Burghardt, ended his 18-year run with the business last weekend when he hosted several events – including viewings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, an ABBA tribute band and an auction of some of the theatre’s memorabilia – to cap off the cinema’s career.

Click here to see photos from the Clova’s final days.

"A lot of people had a good time and they enjoyed the last few moments of the Clova. I think we did well by the community," Burghardt said.

"I’m happy with the way I ran the business. It seems like I have a good reputation with the community and I work hard at that and that’s important to me. I’m in the entertainment business and if people leave with a smile on their faces and laughter in their heart, then that was my goal."

The business needed significant updates to stay afloat, including upgrades to digital projection and other building improvements. Crossridge Church, which had been renting the space on Sundays for the past three years, purchased and took over the building in March.

"The first thing is to get the place renovated. It’s in really, really bad shape," said Crossridge Church pastor Lee Francois. "We’ve got renovation plans, we’re just waiting on permits and those sorts of things."

Everything that was "part of the structure," including the theatre’s seating, now belongs to the new owners so movie-goers who were hoping to snag some seats at the Aug. 3 auction didn’t get the chance.

The auction did yield a significant amount of sales, plus a private $400 offer for the theatre’s popcorn machine – but Burghardt would rather see the machine in use again in a public setting.

"I’m hoping to give that away to someone who could use it," he said, suggesting local schools or sports leagues. "I do have a $400 offer for it but I’d rather give that to the community."

Though the seats remain in the building for now, Francois and the church won’t be keeping them.

"The seats there are falling apart, so we’re replacing the seats," Francois said, "plus some lighting upgrades (and the) curtains on the side are ratty and all that’s coming down. There will be some cosmetic stuff inside but the seats will all be changed."

In addition to clearing out the seats, the group hopes to renovate and expand the lobby, noting that the church has no need for a snack bar.

Francois said that the church had originally hoped that the renovations would be done and new programs would be in full swing by September, but given the state of the building and its needed upgrades, a January launch is more realistic.

"When its done, it will be a great 280-seat venue," Francois said. "At that time, the church may consider renting the space out for community use as well."

"We’ve had a few outside groups inquire about possibilities of an event," he added. "It might be that we do a family movie night once a month; we’re still figuring that out."

As for Burghardt, while it was hard for him to let go of the business, he says he’s more than happy with a little time off for now.

"It’s still ongoing and there hasn’t been any reprieve," he said with a laugh. "I’m waiting for the day I can just go ‘Aahhh.’ I still think that’s a few days away."

kalexandra@thenownewspaper.com