Still no love for Preston’s iconic Rivoli Theatre

The old Rivoli Theatre is waiting for an audience.

The sale of Preston’s former Rivoli Theatre has been a slow motion production.

The block spanning over four titles at 71-75 Gilbert Rd entered the market in 2015 with a $5 million price tag.

Currently occupied by a cleaning supplier, City of Darebin had flagged plans to purchase the old theatre.

Commercial Insights: Subscribe to receive the latest news and updates

A petition from Darebin councillors Kim Le Cerf and Steph Amir to purchase the theatre — as well as the former­ London Chartered Bank of Australia — and convert it into an art space received over 1000 signatures in 2016.

The former bank has subsequently been converted into luxury apartments, which are now on the market.

The old Rivoli Theatre has been on the market for years.

The foyer has been preserved.

Biggin & Scott director Angelo Bafunno says the owners of the old theatre are now chasing about $3.9 million.

“It has been sitting on the market for a long time,” Bafunno says.

“There has been interest above $3 million but the owners would like more.

Parts of the building are now used for cleaning storage.

“It is an iconic site that rarely comes along.”

City of Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie says the council’s budget does not allow for the purchase of a new arts centre in Preston.

“Given limited financial resources, one of (our) priorities is to maximise community outcomes from existing arts centres,” Rennie says.

“There is not a particular protection that would prevent redevelopment occurring.

Opening in 1935 at a cost of £7300, the theatre’s upstairs foyer and original timber floors are still intact.

“However, developers often seek to retain building features because of the character they bring to a new development.”

With lots of local interest, Mr Bafunno said restoring the theatre would be fantastic for the area.

“People would love to see the Rivoli brought back to a cinema or some type of art gallery,” Bafunno says.

Angelo Bafunno in front of the old theatre. Picture: Andrew Tauber.

“Especially now that Miller and Gilbert St have become trendy spots with cafes and gelato stores.

“It is about what can and can’t be done for the amount of money that is being asked.”

This article from Leader Newspapers originally appeared as “No money in Darebin Council budget for Rivoli Theatre”.