Having lived in the suburb with his family since 1967, Mr Zimmerman saw the building as a vital fixture of the community and bought it in 1996, later giving it heritage status.
‘The Astor was part of where I lived and where my children were born: they came here for kids’ movies in the afternoon,’ he said.
‘So 20/30 years later I thought, ‘why does it have to be pulled down?’ There was talk about building a supermarket in its place and I thought we had enough supermarkets.
‘There are so many projects that could be saved if someone put their money where their mouth is.’
Mr Zimmerman said that after three years of running the venue, a cinema at the time, he realised it had no future in movies so started limiting screenings and taking on musicals, conferences and even weddings.
‘Originally it was a theatre and then converted to a cinema. It showed adult movies years ago but didn’t make money because the people in this area weren’t the type for that,’ he said.
‘The reason why it didn’t have any future with cinema was because when you get a movie you’re obligated to the company who gives it to you and you pay a very high fee: sometimes 60 per cent of your takings.
‘We did very well with movies but not well enough to stay in business.’
The Astor now functions as a popular live venue for music and comedy.
It recently opened Bruno’s Bar upstairs and is converting its small theatre room into a band space.
Furthermore, an ice cream parlour will soon open outside the theatre on the Walcott Street side, run by Mr Zimmerman’s wife Martha.
The Astor theatre will host the Stay in Stirling public rally, to stop parts of Stirling (including the Astor) from going to Bayswater, on Wednesday, August 28.