By Jesse Wood
June 20, 2013. After closed session at its May 21 meeting, the Boone Town Council unanimously voted to authorize Mayor Loretta Clawson to sign, on behalf of the town, the deed of the old Appalachian Twin Theatre and transfer ownership of the theatre to the nonprofit Appalachian Theatre of the High Country, Inc. – once Town Manager Greg Young approves the “conditions of transfer,” according to meeting minutes.
In November 2011, the Town of Boone purchased the old theatre for $624,500 in a foreclosure auction, which included $75,000 of Downtown Boone Development Association funds (DBDA), and the DBDA agreed to payback the Town of Boone the remaining $549,500 within three years and restore the theatre to its original 1938 appearance.
While the theatre hasn’t yet been transferred to the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country, which was incorporated last October and was formed to take control of the future restoration and operation of theatre from the DBDA, John Cooper, campaign chair of the theatre group, said that should happen soon.
“It should be very close on that, and then we will have actual possession of the theatre,” Cooper said, adding that the group will pay remaining monies owed the town with a $300,000 “bridge loan.”
The capital campaign for the restoration of the old Appalachian Twin Theatre is currently in the silent phase, but Cooper said, “It’s really doing well” – with good responses from local businesses and individuals and also from foundations where grant applications will be submitted to support the project that has historical significance in the town.
And even though the theatre group is taking out a loan to pay back the Town of Boone, Cooper added that pledges and gifts have come and are coming in that together exceed well over the value of new loan.
“We don’t really want debt,” Cooper said, adding that the loan would be paid off in less than a year and that silent phase should go public by the end of the year as well.
Once the ownership transfers, the theatre committee can then begin the process of selecting an “architect and so forth,” Cooper said, without, for example, having to use the municipal bid process. An architectural review of the theatre for the Town of Boone estimated costs to be about $4 million to bring the theatre back to life.
While this transition will increase progress for the theatre committee, this move also comes at a pertinent time for the Town of Boone, considering the majority of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners recently voted to redistribute the sales tax for the upcoming fiscal year. The shortfall of the redistribution to the the town’s general fund was $1.8 million.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding Agreement for the theatre acquisition between the Town of Boone and the DBDA, the possibility of that shortfall was foreseen.
“During the time the loan is outstanding, should the Town experience a drastic decrease in revenue, as determined by the Town in its sole discretion, whether by a reapportionment of sales tax within Watauga County, or from other unknown or presently unanticipated cause, the Town may call due the full balance of principal and accrued interest,” the document states.
Prior Articles About The Appalachian Theatre Project: