Local News

City could consider new offer to sell Roanoke Rapids Theatre

Posted July 19, 2012

— Roanoke Rapids leaders could consider a new offer Thursday evening to sell the city's troubled music theater, which is costing taxpayers millions of dollars each year.

Mayor Emery Doughtie said an undisclosed group of investors are interested in a lease-purchase agreement with the city to buy the Ronaoke Rapids Theatre.

The group wants to continue using the facility as a music theater but also wants to supplement the business with electronic gambling.

The city borrowed $21.5 million in 2005 to build the theater along Interstate 95 in an effort to attract tourists and help boost the economy.

But with a combination of low ticket sales, management changes and attempts to sell the 1,500-seat venue, the city never generated enough money to pay off its loan.

That forced city leaders to increase the local sales tax rate. Residents are now paying nearly $2 million a year.

A lease-purchase agreement for the theater wouldn't be the first.

Several years ago, Lafayette Gatling, a Chicago businessman, entered into a $12.5 million agreement, which the city terminated in 2010 because Gatling failed to pay more than $500,000 in back rent.

Roanoke Rapids agreed again in November to sell the music theater to Gatling for $7.1 million in cash, but it never happened.

8 Comments

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  • superman Jul 20, 10:31 a.m.

    Goverment should just stay out of private enterprise. Raleigh is not much different. They built the convention center which is still losing money over the protests of the citizens. Downtown is dead except for the people who have to work there.

  • Grandaddy Jul 20, 9:10 a.m.

    the building cost 21.5 million,city tried to sell for 12.5 million (deal fell through).City agreed to sell to same guy for 7.1 million. I live here and I'm waiting for the city to start selling homes. At this rate I could get a 1/2 million dollor home for about 170 thousand. and the city tax payers would pay the bank the full 500 thousand.Does anyone want to buy my house in Roanoke Rapids.

  • htomc42 Jul 20, 8:11 a.m.

    Yet another government boondoggle based on wishful fantasy thinking.

    Now just where is that new Light Rail system going to run?

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jul 19, 7:56 p.m.

    What an albatross around their neck! Whomever contributed to making the decision to build this should be revealed and censured in some way.

  • westernwake1 Jul 19, 6:59 p.m.

    What a travesty and waste on the part of Roanoke Rapids government.

  • Bartmeister Jul 19, 6:00 p.m.

    Money Pit.

  • americaneel Jul 19, 5:53 p.m.

    Laughing stock of the century

  • Southern Discomfort Jul 19, 4:40 p.m.

    Get what you can for it now and move on.