Former SilverCity property on Walker Road to become a movie theatre again

Cineplex is closing its Walker Road location based on pre-pandemic attendance levels.  (Jacob Barker/CBC News - image credit)
Cineplex is closing its Walker Road location based on pre-pandemic attendance levels. (Jacob Barker/CBC News - image credit)

A new Landmark Cinemas movie theatre will open this year in the former SilverCity space on Walker Road, developer Joe Mikhail said Thursday.

The news comes after the city granted the project nearly $2 million in community improvement funds last fall.

"The theatre industry has been challenged with streaming and so forth, but the need for Windsor is there," said Mikhail, who heads Mikhail Holdings, the owner of the building.

"Windsor is probably the fastest growing community in Canada. Our population is soaring, our workforce is soaring, our employment is soaring here and we only have one theatre."

Landmark Cinemas is expected to occupy eight of the 12 theatres as movie theatre spaces, Mikhail said. The remaining theatre bays at the back of the building will be used as a medical centre.

The project last year was the recipient of community improvement program (CIP) funding. The city will not collect about $1.9 million in taxes over 10 years, in a bid to incentivize the revitalization of the space.

The funding was first approved by the city's development and heritage committee in September, and approved by council in October.

Mikhail said the money is meant to encourage jobs and development, which he says the movie theatre brings.

"The funding, well, it's meant for job creation and management for development in the city," he said. "That's effectively what we've done. It's saved the building which would have cost the city more money had I demolished it.

"We would have lost the entire tax base and they would have lost the opportunity to have jobs."

Under the terms of the grant, the city will keep the amount of the pre-development taxes and will grant back to the owner the value of the taxes on the improved property value.

At the time, the city's report pegged the redeveloped value of the property at $8 million, compared to $2.5 million in its current state.

The building had been vacant for more than two years after the SilverCity closed during the pandemic.

The building has had issues with vandalism int he past, with Mikhail estimating "millions" of dollars in damage stemming from damaged wiring, HVAC system and roofing.

Mikhail said the project is much needed in Windsor and will attract residents from neighbouring municipalities who will spend other money in the community, like dining and shopping.

"This is going to be an extraordinary movie theatre. It will be top notch seating, video, sound," Mikhail said. "I think the citizens of Windsor Essex County will be quite happy with it."

The theatre could open as soon as this summer, Mikhail said, but no later than this fall.