Landmark cinema building to get new lease of life as multi-arts venue

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A NEW vision for an Edinburgh landmark has been unveiled with an architect's impression of the multi-arts venue proposed for the former Odeon cinema in the city's Southside.

The cinema, which was shut down in 2003, is up for sale with a 2.93 million price tag after owners Duddingston House Properties were refused permission to turn it into a hotel.

Now an alliance of venue managers, arts administrators and designers hopes to raise the money to convert the iconic building into a centre for the arts under its original name The New Victoria.

Creative director Vicki Simpson said: "This image is our vision of what The New Victoria could be.

"We want to restore this abandoned, neglected building in a manner which reflects its cultural and architectural significance.

"We will do a full restoration of its outstanding original features, many of which have been hidden from public view for decades."

Under its previous guise as the Odeon the venue hosted red carpet premieres for films including Diamonds are Forever, Entrapment, Morvern Callar and Rob Roy.

One of only two Scottish cinemas designed by WE Trent, the cinema opened in 1930s - the golden age of movies.

The interior, which had seating for more than 2,000 patrons, was in a pastiche classical fashion known as "the atmospheric style".

Although the seats were removed when the Odeon decamped in 2003, it still has the art deco bar, the faux classical interior and the distinctive white frontage, with tiles by Hathenware - who also created the interior of the Cafe Royale.

Operations manager of The New Victoria, Sarah Colquhoun, said: "The potential for this venue is incredible.

"The New Victoria will be a space for new Scottish theatre and arts, a modern live music venue and a place to screen films.We hope to welcome back red carpet premieres to Edinburgh's Southside, for the first time in over a decade."

Current owner Bruce Hare, of Duddingston House Properties, said he would be delighted if someone could put together a viable business plan for the building, which he has owned for seven years.

He said: "If there is somebody out there we would like to hear from them.

"There is a lot of interest and a lot of people have ideas - but we have never had a serious offer."

Mr Hare decided to put the cinema building on the open market for a trial three-month period after Historic Scotland objected to his plan to create an Arts Hotel - which would have preserved the exterior and the art deco bar but would have entailed taking out the WE Trent auditorium to create hotel rooms.

The former cinema, which has been revalued at 2.93m - down from 2.95m - was originally bought with the intention of turning it into a night club and live music venue, but new limitations on late night licences made the original plan unworkable.

Former architect Mr Hare was the developer of The Jam House on Queen Street and is also Edinburgh Council's preferred developer for the Royal High School.

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