Armond Theatre under the hammer Monday

The historic movie house in downtown Cranbrook will go through a court-ordered sale next week

Ownership of Cranbrook’s historic Armond Theatre is expected to change hands on Monday after a cash offer prompted a court-ordered sale.

Listing agent Brian Burch said the building has been listed for sale since spring 2011 for $299,000, and a cash offer of $245,500 has been received.

Any other interested parties have until Monday, July 22 at 9:30 a.m. to put forward a competing offer.

On the site of Cranbrook’s old auditorium, the Armond Theatre opened its doors on March 19, 1952. A packed house flocked to view “An American In Paris” at the new state-of-the-art theatre.

The movie theatre was designed by Vancouver architectural firm Sharp, Thompson, Berwick and Pratt, who also designed campus buildings at the University of British Columbia.

It was named for original managing director Armond Clark Blaine, who passed away before the theatre was completed.

The theatre boasted reinforced concrete construction with “ultra-modern” plastic doors leading into a handsomely appointed foyer. The main floor boasted ‘saucer-type’ seating, acoustically treated walls, air conditioning and the most up-to-date sound system available. A stadium mezzanine (balcony) was also included.

The building stands out on 10th Avenue, downtown Cranbrook, for its neon sign hanging above the awning and a painted Pepsi advertisement on its exterior side.

When the new Columbia Theatre at Tamarack Mall opened in the late 1990s, the Armond saw dwindling numbers, until it finally closed its doors in 1999.

A restrictive covenant was placed on the building – and remains to this day – that it cannot be used for a public movie house.

The most recent owner, Canadian Rocks Limited, purchased the Armond in 2005 for $250,000. Realtor Brian Burch said that owner began renovating the property, including replacing the roof, but was unable to finish it.

The Armond was listed for sale again in spring 2011 when the owner was unable to keep up with mortgage payments.

“In this case, the seller and the mortgage company cooperated in the court ordered sale. In other words they agreed not to contest the sale, so it was congenial,” said Burch.

Only cash offers are considered and the offer must be free of conditions.

Now, a $245,500 cash offer has been received for this piece of Cranbrook history. This triggers a court hearing in Cranbrook Supreme Court on Monday, July 22. All offers must be registered in court before 9:30 a.m. on Monday to be considered by the judge.

The judge will select the highest offer and order the sale, clearing the title in the process.

Burch said the building needs repairs.

“It would cost $200,000 and not a nickel under,” he said.

There are two broken trusses under the roof, which would need to be repaired from inside the building using scaffolding or lifts. Also, a leaking appliance under the roof has damaged the flushing.

With files from Townsman columnist Jim Cameron, Janus: Then and Now.

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