Dance Academy owner: 'I'll work with others to save landmark building'
THE OWNER of the Dance Academy has said he is willing to work with anyone to see the landmark building revived.
Manoucehr Bahmanzadeh says he invited a member of Plymouth City Council's planning and regeneration department to meet him at the Grade II listed building in Union Street.
The pair inspected the various rooms, corridors, stages and features of the former Palace Theatre.
Mr Bahmanzadeh said: "I said: 'Let's have a meeting and talk about what you want me to do'. If anyone wants to help, they are welcome, but with one condition – the help is unconditional. Don't put any conditions, like 'give me the lease' because nothing like that is going to happen.
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"I honestly think the building looks worse than it really is. The bricks are all there, the structure is there. It's cosmetic."
The venue has been closed since police raided it in May 2006. Mr Bahmanzadeh was jailed in 2008, at Plymouth Crown Court, after being convicted of allowing the supply of class A drugs at the club.
Mr Bahmanzadeh won the right to appeal against his conviction in January this year following a review of the case by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The hearing is expected to take place in November this year.
Mr Bahmanzadeh said he was dismayed how the area around the Palace Theatre had also fallen into disrepair.
He said: "The whole street suffered when they shut down the building. It did not benefit anyone. All the other businesses lost trade.
"They need something viable here to help the community."
The Palace Theatre opened in 1898 as a music hall, playing host to giants of stage, screen and radio including Gracie Fields, Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and Frankie Howerd.
The building, which is on the 'at risk' lists of English Heritage, the Theatres Trust, and the Victorian Society, is described as being in elaborate Flemish Renaissance style, blending Art Nouveau with military motifs and scenes of the Spanish Armada.
A spokesman for Plymouth City Council said: "A council building surveyor met with the owner to discuss a minor structural matter."
The Theatres Trust once described the building as as "fantastic and opulent" and "one of Plymouth's best surviving Victorian buildings."
In response to Mr Bahmanzadeh's invitation a spokesman for the Theatres Trust said: "The Plymouth Palace continually features within The Theatres Trust's top ten most endangered theatres at risk within the UK. We would welcome any opportunity to work with a person or group who could provide a credible and sustainable plan for the theatre."
An English Heritage spokesman said: "The Grade II* Palace Theatre is one of the most historically significant buildings in the South West. A former variety theatre and hotel from 1898, it has been gradually deteriorating. Temporary repairs were undertaken in 1997 but it's in a very bad condition. We understand the owner is keen to find a solution for the building and we wait to hear more on his plans."
A spokesman for the Victorian Society appeared to be more cautious at the invite, saying only: "In light of the previous history, the proof of the pudding is in the eating."