The York was originally built in 1913, and at times has operated as the Alcazar Theatre, The Palace, The Little Theatre, and the Raja Cinema. In the summer of 2008 an application by the previous owner was made to demolish the building. Following community advocacy that sought to retain the building, the Vancouver East Cultural Centre undertook a rehabilitation feasibility study with Henriquez Partners Architects. The property was subsequently purchased by Wall Financial Corporation, and in May 2011, Council approved a rezoning proposal and heritage revitalization agreement to save the York Theatre.
The restored theatre includes a fully fitted 365 seat theatre, orchestra pit, new lobby and heritage ticket booth, with the project built following sustainability principles. The City will own the building and lease it to the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, who will operate the building as a performing arts centre and use it as a satellite facility. Rescued from demolition and fully restored, the York runs primarily as a rental venue, accessible to artists and community groups.