Theater feasibility study presented to Strasburg

On Monday, Strasburg officials heard a presentation from Steve Gyurisin, of Advance Planning Associates, on a feasibility study on the Strasburg Home Theater.

Gyurisin worked on the feasibility study with Felicia Hart, Strasburg downtown coordinator, to provide interested buyers a baseline for renovation and building costs.

The final report is available in its entirety on the town website (http://bit.ly/1FjsWUE).

The town received $20,000 from the Virginia Housing Development Authority, $15,000 of which was a Mix Use Mixed Income Grant for the feasibility study.

Wyatt Pearson, town planning and zoning administrator, noted that the town is working with the state to figure out what to use the leftover $5,000 for.

For part of the study, Gyurisin and Hart visited several nearby theaters — such as the State Theater in Culpeper — to look at examples of revitalized community theaters.

As a frame of reference, Gyurisin said they “identified a minimal level” for renovation costs of around or just under $1 million.

Compared to this minimum level, Gyurisin noted that the State Theater in Culpeper was renovated for $9 million, which included expanding the building for theater productions and concerts.

Gyurisin explained that the minimum cost level would include repairing the building’s roof, heating and electrical work and minor renovation work such as painting.

Depending on the project and what potential future purchasers decide to do, Gyurisin noted that those costs could go up or down.

Gyurisin said they worked with Lineage Architects on possible uses for the theater. These possible uses are outlined and contain blueprints on how the building might look with certain uses.

For potential uses, Gyurisin discussed a few of the study’s options at Monday’s work session: a movie theater, a brewpub and restaurant as well as a movie theater and a nonprofit community center for the town.

“The restaurant would generate a different type of income than the theater that would help add to the revenue stream,” Gyurisin said.

The community center, Gyurisin said, would allow the organizers to host different types of events, from plays and concerts to movies or art displays.

“We did look at adding apartments on the second floor, but it really didn’t turn out to be a feasible option,” Gyurisin said, noting that the space could allow for two small studio apartments and a large two-bedroom space.

However, Gyurisin said the issue of “fire separation” between residential and commercial that would add to the cost of renovating the building.

“On some of the uses that we propose, it’s very difficult to say, ‘OK it’s going to generate a certain amount of money,” Gyurisin said.

Gyurisin added, “I think the bottom line is: It’s empty and it’d be great if someone could take control of it and make sure that it’s maintained properly until that use is found.”

Some of the problems currently plaguing the building are the water drainage system and the resulting basement flooding.

Gyurisin noted that, when he first visited the theater, he could not enter the basement due to the fact that there was 3 feet of water.

Pearson explained, “The basement’s an existing problem. The sub-pumps are managing it, but it’s literally just circulating the water back into the ground right outside of [the basement].”

With no place for the water to go, Hart and Pearson noted that it simply comes back into the basement, causing the flooding.

Town Mayor Tim Taylor noted that he has heard some great ideas from residents in the community, ranging from high school plays to classic films. “Someone’s gotta get it fixed up and purchased,” he said.

Along with presenting the report, Gyurisin noted, “You have to look at what you have today, it may change tomorrow, but what you have … is somebody that wants to sell for $475,000.”

Hart noted that Owen Heine, of Sager Real Estate, is working with the theater owners to reduce the price of the theater for potential buyers.

With the report in place, acting Town Manager Jay McKinley noted that it gives the town a marketing tool to present to potentially interested parties.

Hart also said, “We are planning on sending [the report] to the Blue Ridge Association of Realtors … we’ll start getting the word out there.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com