Thursday, 28 June 2018 18:31

July 23 closing date anticipated on theater sale

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The prospective buyers of the Roanoke Rapids Theater are expected to close on the venue July 23, city council was told this evening.

In a press release handed out following a special meeting, the city said, “After further discussions with the representative for (Thomas and Evon McClean) … the city administration has reached an agreement to finalize the purchase contract and set an anticipated closing date of July 23. There are no changes to the original purchase offer of $3 million for the property. The city administration will apply the purchasers’ entire initial deposit of $150,000 toward the purchase price.”

City council approved the sale and financing conditions on a 4-1 vote with Councilman Carl Ferebee casting the dissenting vote.

City Manager Joseph Scherer said in the press release, “We are satisfied with the financial arrangements the purchasers have made for the property acquisition and both parties are ready to move forward and execute the contract.”

Scherer said in the statement the McCleans have begun to coordinate with their contracted vendors for their venue business plan. “The city administration is prepared to transfer the property to the purchasers and provide them with facility transition assistance such as sound and lighting systems, communications, security and internet systems as well as physical plant operations. It is the city’s intention to make the transition as seamless as possible and help position the purchasers for success in their efforts.”

Following the meeting Scherer said the building and sound system remain in good condition. “Everything is still good. Everything still operates.”

Scherer said with the closing now anticipated, “I think we’re starting to see our ultimate goal of getting the theater in private hands to use for commercial development.”

City Attorney Gilbert Chichester said the only aspect of the deal to change is that the McCleans will pay the city $300,000 upon closing and instead of paying the remainder off over three years will pay the city $20,000 per month over the course of a year with a balloon payment at the end.

A press conference is tentatively scheduled July 11 in Raleigh with the McCleans’ public relations representatives to detail the plans the couple have for the venue.

They have already contracted with an entertainment company, Scherer said.

Chichester said while there will be gaming at the venue, “Gaming won’t be the centerpiece.”

The ultimate goal is for them to develop the land surrounding the theater, Scherer said.

“That was what was originally intended, the theater to be the anchor,” Chichester said.

Mayor Emery Doughtie said following the meeting, “I feel good about it. Joe has worked hard, Gilbert has worked hard, everyone has worked hard. Selling a piece of property like this is not easy.”

The payments from the McCleans will go toward theater debt. Scherer said the city still owes $15 million on the building.

A restructuring of the debt has cut the repayment to around $1 million a year. “It’s helped us on the amount of cash flow payments,” he said.

The sale of the theater will reduce other costs associated with keeping the building open, which right now costs the city about $150,000 a year, the city manager said.

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