Local News

New Roanoke Rapids Theatre owner trying to assemble nearby land

Posted February 1, 2012

— The Chicago businessman who has agreed to buy the troubled Roanoke Rapids Theatre is holding off on closing the deal as he attempts to acquire surrounding property, city officials said Wednesday.

Roanoke Rapids agreed in November to sell the music theater to Lafayette Gatling for $7.1 million in cash.

Attorney H. Lawrence Armstrong said Gatling is negotiating with developers to buy some land near the theater for projects that could include a water park, movie theater or restaurants.

Roanoke Rapids Mayor Emery Doughtie said the deal for the theater is moving forward, and he said he hopes to have a signed deal soon.

Roanoke Rapids borrowed $21.5 million in 2005 to build the theater along Interstate 95 to attract tourists and help boost the economy. Local taxpayers are now paying nearly $2 million a year in borrowing and operating costs.

The city will still have to pay about $12 million on the property after the sale, but Doughtie has said the city would be able to refinance the remaining debt to make it more manageable.

Several years ago, Gatling entered into a $12.5 lease-purchase agreement for the theater, but the city terminated it in 2010 when Gatling failed to pay more than $500,000 in back rent.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • el conquistador Feb 2, 2012

    Everybody knows Randy Parton. He's a music and entertainment legend. Randy's list of top ten songs and number one hits is very impressive.His face is in every home and office around the world..Why I remember when he and Granny loaded up the truck and moved to.....Nashville...no...no..it was Beverly Hills....no.no...that's not it...Oh yeah, I remember..Roanoke Rapids, NC,,that's it!!...What a bunch of fools.I'm sure the Eiffel Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge were next on their list....It is easy to spend someone else's money.

  • just my2cents Feb 2, 2012

    Pseudonym, I live NOWHERE near Raleigh. But thanks for The info.

  • Pseudonym Feb 2, 2012

    Quote from justmy2cents: "We go to VA every year and spend 100s of dollars 3-4 times each summer. I would much rather spend it in NC. Charlotte is just too far away and I don't like staying there."

    According to Google maps, from Downtown Raleigh to Kings Dominon is 3 hours 15 minutes, and 198 miles. From Downtown Raleigh to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is 3 hours 29 minutes and 213 miles. From Downtown Raleigh to Carowinds is 3 hours, 9 minutes and 181 miles.

  • Pseudonym Feb 2, 2012

    Turn it into a museum to teach future generations what happens when local governments and politicians get involved in stuff they don't understand, namely, the free market.

  • Retired07 Feb 2, 2012

    Poor Taxpayers! This loss should be spread among the air heads that signed off on it with taxpayer obligation. Just like the rest of government; it is easy to spend someone else's money.

  • uncw05 Feb 2, 2012

    Rolling Along- They are pretty much in a position that they have to take what they can get. Yes this is selling it at a loss, but it's a smaller loss than they will take if they don't sell. They spent way too much to build something there was no demand for. If they refuse to sell until they get enough to break even, they will never sell it. He's the only person crazy enough to buy it, so they really have no choice but work with him. At least by taking cash upfront they know he can't quit paying like he did before.

  • Rolling Along Feb 2, 2012

    @uncw05...still, he was going to buy it the last time and reneged on the agreement, so now they are going to sell at an even greater loss?

  • hangry Feb 2, 2012

    I for one, thought the plan, overall, to build a Branson-East in Roanoke Rapids had some merit. I am sorry that it has not worked out.

  • uncw05 Feb 2, 2012

    Rolling Along- It says he's paying cash this time. The transfer doesn't happen until they have all the money. Before it was lease to own, and he stopped paying the lease.

  • Rolling Along Feb 2, 2012

    Something smells...he wouldn't pay the first time, why on earth do they think he is going to pay this time? Do you think the bank would let you walk away from your mortgage payment then come back and buy it back for less?