THE future of The Regent cinema remains hanging in the balance, with operator Leven Community Cinema no closer to being able to purchase the building.
The Mail reported earlier this month that Victor Levy, of owners Raphael Properties, had accelerated the sale of the Commercial Road venue and said it could go to auction as early as the end of next month, should the group not agree on a price.
After speaking to both parties, it became apparent this is a major issue, with a gulf in valuations remaining because of a dispute over what building’s market value actually is.
If nothing can be agreed, which now looks likely, as communications between the two parties have broken down, the most probable scenario is the building will go under the hammer on May 2.
That leaves the cinema group, whose lease expires on December 31, playing a high-risk strategy, as it has no guaranteed funding and would not be able to bid.
Therefore, it is left hoping nobody meets the reserve and Raphael Properties drops its asking price, or that a new owner would continue to let it lease the premises after the current lease, which has to be honoured, finishes.
Colin Cunningham, treasurer of Leven Community Cinema, said his group had the building valued at £120,000 and is willing to make an application to the Common Good Fund for that amount, but won’t pay a penny more.
He added: “Victor is trying to sell it as a cinema but everything in there is ours. He feels he is entitled to a higher value because he is saying he is selling a cinema.
“Even if we had the money to meet Victor’s valuation, I wouldn’t advise paying over the price we had the building valued at.
“If he can’t agree to the market value, I don’t see how we can move things on.”
However, Mr Levy said when the cinema took on its lease, albeit under a different chair and committee, it promised to purchase the building for £185,000.
Mr Levy added he is willing to negotiate a deal which could bring the price down to around £150,000 but admitted his patience was running out.
He continued: “They are saying its a bare shell and everything in the cinema belongs to them but that’s not entirely true.
“The box office, upstairs seating, the layout of the cinema, all the heating and electric systems were all there. The only thing they have put in is the screen and projector and seats downstairs. It doesn’t take long to put these things back in.
“Valuation is an art, not a science. Their valuers valued it at one price and ours valued it at another, so we said ‘let’s sit down and talk’ and they have never come back to us.
“I’m not 100 per cent convinced they want to buy it. From our point of view, when there is silence, it’s inaction and no interest.”