Thames’ historic cinema building ripe for development
By Jo Ferris
In the immortal words of the 1971 comedy featuring Monty Python’s best sketches: ‘And Now for Something Completely Different’; a cinema is on the market. Thames’ cinema, to be precise. Covid has been a difficult time for the movie industry around the world. It’s not simply production. Changing times, with direct releases to the likes of Netflix, hasn’t helped. Yet boutique cinemas throughout the country – not to mention new complexes like the ultra-modern cinema now operating in Mt Maunganui’s Bayfair complex – reinforces the fact that people still enjoy movies on the big screen. The latest James Bond offering ‘No Time to Die’ being a case in point. Ideal timing of Thames then. With no other cinema around Hauraki or general area, the closure this year of Thames’ cinema was sad. People used to come from far and wide, according to Harcourts’ Paeroa marketing consultant Matt Bowie. With his own movie nostalgia, he says this old cinema is ‘like a box of chocolates’. “There are too many inviting options. This nostalgic beauty has been a treasure to the local Hauraki movie and theatre goers for approximately 100 years. It’s seen first kisses, bucket loads of buttery popcorn and smiles bigger than that of the Joker when he’s tormenting Batman.” While not a heritage building, the Embassy is a sentimental landmark. A significant freehold site at around 658 square metres, with the building approximately 635 square metres. Three cinemas, a café/snack bar and two toilet blocks and some off-street parking in the rear off Martha Street. With a Commercial (8A) zoning, Matt suggests a savvy investor could go to ‘ infinity and beyond’ with the possibilities. “A combination of café, restaurant, bar, night club, events, entertainment or boutique cinema? Apartments are another possibility.” It has the makings of a great night club, but the potential to retain one cinema and develop apartments could put Thames in the spotlight. Covid is seeing huge movement as Aucklanders look to cash up and leave for the provinces. Thames might not be in big demand as the likes of Waihi Beach and Whangamata, but as a small township it has a lot to offer – certainly price wise. The Embassy is ripe for development – either restoration or a new project - subject to due diligence and resource consent. Some earthquake strengthening has been completed, according to Matt. And with no heritage protection, it clears any limitations and opens up the property’s potential. Double frontage on Pollen Street through to Martha Street is appealing, which increases the benefit of access. Location is also high on the list. With the doors closed and the vendor ready to say ‘Hasta Lavista’, according to Matt, it will be interesting to see what the Embassy’s ‘ back to the future’ will bring.