Deadline set on Leven’s Regent sale

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LEVEN Community Cinema group, which runs The Regent, is facing the prospect of becoming homeless if it can’t come up with enough money to buy its Commercial Road premises outright

Although officially it has always been on the market, London-based Raphael Properties, which currently rents the building to the cinema group, has stepped up its bid to rid itself of the property and has now put an initial closing date of the end of April for its sale.

Victor Levy, of Raphael Properties, said his firm is willing to work with the cinema group, although couldn’t promise it would not be sold to the highest bidder at auction in two months time if nothing materialised.

The cinema group currently pays £10,000 in rent to Raphael Properties, believed to be around half of the market value, and the property has been put on the market for £250,000.

Colin Cunningham, treasurer of Leven Community Cinema, told the Mail it didn’t think the time was right to comment in detail as the group was still in negotiations with Raphael Properties.

He did, however, say the cinema group was always aware the building was up for sale.

He added: “The stumbling block, that has been there from day one, is the owners of the building have always wanted more than the market value for the premises, and this is why negotiations have taken so long.”

If the cinema group is not able to come up with an offer to suit the owner and the building is sold at auction, it would be left hoping any new owner would not only allow it to remain as tenants, but also offer it the same reduced terms.

If new owners have their own idea for the building, however, the cinema group would be left looking for a new venue to continue or, in the worse case scenario, have to shut down, only two years after launching at The Regent.

Mr Levy, of Raphael Properties, said: “We are very supportive of what they (Leven Community Cinema) are doing and we like very much the aims of helping the community.

“It’s slightly unfortunate that I am trying to cut down my property work and it doesn’t really fit in with the profile in the future.

“We don’t want to just sell it in the open market to someone they don’t know, so we are rather hoping a local business or someone would want to run the cinema and have the same aims of supporting the community as we do.

“We have been speaking for the past few years and it hasn’t really gotten anywhere.

“We don’t want to push anybody but, if we haven’t had anything, say, by the end of April, we may put it under the hammer just to move it on, as it’s not convenient for us to hold it forever.”

Mr Levy did, however, admit there was room for negotiation in both the price and the timescale of the sale, should the cinema group or someone with its best interests at heart look to buy it.

Further enquiries can be made directly to Victor Levy on 020 7935 2770.