Clova Cinema at the crossroads

With a buyer in the wings, Cloverdale's iconic single screen sets the stage for its next act.

The Clova Cinema in downtown Cloverdale opened in 1947. It's among the last remaining single screen cinemas in the Lower Mainland and has not yet converted to a digital projection system.

A deal is in motion that would see the Clova Cinema sold and eventually restored to its original look, changing the face of downtown Cloverdale.

A buyer, CrossRidge Church, is in the wings, mulling over an offer to buy the Clova Cinema building, an iconic heritage landmark at 5731 176 Street.

The Clova is still operating as a movie theatre, but business owner Craig Burghardt said he so far hasn’t been able to work out another long-term lease with the property’s current owner, making it challenging to consider going ahead with an expensive digital upgrade as the sun sets on the 35-mm film industry.

A real estate agent involved in the deal recently met with members of the Cloverdale Improvement Association for an update and consultation.

The Art Deco-style theatre, which opened in 1947, is listed on the city’s heritage register, and as recently as last week, details were being worked out on how a buyer would preserve and restore the building.

“We’ve had some discussions on how to preserve the building,” said Jean Lamontagne, general manager of planning and development with the City of Surrey. “We feel very positive with the sale and that this will happen.”

Cloverdale BIA executive director Paul Orazietti said the deal hinges on whether or not the church will agree to restore and preserve the heritage value of the building, a condition of sale that could translate into costly repairs.

“Our business community is supportive,” Orazietti added. “We would like to preserve the structure. If there is a group that could breathe new life into it, it’s a lot better than in the past, and letting it fall into decay.”

The pride of Main Street Cloverdale stood empty for several years in the 1980s, when Odeon opted to sell the theatre rather than convert it into multiple screens. It re-opened as the Clova Cinema in 1992, and the family-owned business has been run by Burghardt since 1996.

CrossRidge Church has been renting the theatre on Sunday mornings for church services. It also sublets classroom space across the street at the Cloverdale Learning Centre, and rents the small government office building at 17674 58 Avenue, and for now isn’t interested in using the theatre except on Sundays, according to Orazietti.

“The group is ideally suited to it,” he said, noting the church is open to allowing community access to the Clova as a venue. “They seem to be the perfect fit.”

In addition to preserving heritage aspects of the building, the city is asking the potential buyers to provide for a specific number of parking spaces, he said.

One change would involve the building’s colours, which would revert from burgundy, black and gold to its original, subdued hues.

The current colour scheme is a face lift done in the late 1990s during the Smallville era, when the cinema was used as a location for the TV production, playing the role of The Talon in Superman’s hometown.

Contacted this week, Burghardt was hopeful that a change in ownership would spell the end of his five-year wait in limbo as tenant.

Burghardt was expecting to meet with representatives from the church on Wednesday, after the Reporter’s press time.

“My intention is to go ahead,” he said. “This all hinges on me getting a lease.”

The Clova has been paying rent on a month-by-month basis for the past five years, and the building has been on the market for four of those.

“I’ve been operating on hope,” he said. “What I need is a lease – from somebody.”

Regardless of the outcome of the meeting, this Friday, the Clova presents Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

“My strategy has been to ‘open’ movies because they give you film,” he said, explaining it’s increasingly difficult to track down celluloid versions of first-run movies. “It’s been nearly impossible to do double bills.”


See also:

Clova Cinema wrestles with film vs. digital

A Cloverdale classic turns 65,

Follow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook. View our print edition online.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Walnut Grove’s Shawn Meehan (front) has started another band, Trigger Mafia. This local country rocker has put country on the shelf, and is going hard-core rock with this group, releasing their first single last Friday to radio. It started as a way to pass the time during the COVID lockdown, and evolved. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Langley musician drives rock revival with COVID twist

Trigger Mafia goes straight from the garage to radio with raw lyrics

The peninsula’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at White Rock Baptist Church – seen here in 2019 – has been cancelled for 2020, because of pandemic-inspired limitations on gatherings. (File photo)
Annual Community Christmas dinner ‘just not possible’ this year

Organizers vow that 40 years-plus Semiahmoo Peninsula tradition will return, post-COVID

A surveillance camera in a photo posted to the Project Iris page on
Quality surveillance video helps catch crooks, Surrey Mounties say

Charges laid in connection to break-and-enter in Guildford area

Strawberry Hill Hall is being renovated and moved to another location on its existing corner lot in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey’s historic Strawberry Hill Hall being moved a few metres in $1.2M reno project

Childcare spaces coming to corner lot where hall has stood for 111 years

(Photo: Twitter@SurreyRCMP)
Surrey Mounties, pet owners, bracing for Halloween

Last year the Surrey RCMP received 147 fireworks complaints on Diwali and 121 on Halloween

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Most Read