Cary buys old theater for cultural center

Posted July 13, 2011

— Cary has purchased the former site of the town’s first indoor movie theater, which officials said they plan to turn into a multi-use cultural facility.

The town paid $410,000 for the 65-year-old, 7,488-square-foot building at 122 E. Chatham St. Officials said they expect to spend another $1 million in the next 12 to 18 months to renovate the building so it can handle music, theater and film events.

“Its location in the heart of Cary’s downtown and its early history as Cary’s first indoor movie theater were key factors in the town’s decision to immediately proceed with the project,” Ed Gawf, Cary's downtown development manager, said in a statement.

Officials said they hope to proceed with design bids and the selection of a consultant next month and begin work by this winter. The facility is expected to be ready for public use by the end of 2012.


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  • james27613 Jul 15, 2011

    $410K plus another Million?

    Must be nice to spend money on stuff nobody needs.

  • mesunrise Jul 15, 2011

    Scare missed my point entirely. Mighty large building for "craft classes"!!!! he knows what we are talking about!

  • Scare Crow Jul 15, 2011

    MESUNRISE, you need to get out of your car and walk around the old school, maybe go up the steps, I've heard craft classes is being held there. Besides all this construction and renovation is good for the economy.

  • genralwayne Jul 14, 2011

    "...I give you the Cary Arts Center which opens this month with its grand opening in August."

    Precisely the point...Why do we need another "cultural art theater" a mere three blocks from this marvelous old school. Restoring a town's historic center is a great objective - but, do it by attracting affluent and desirable businesses rather than raising taxes and bonds and spending it all on frivolous "government centers." The hi-brow town "leaders" of Cary don't have a clue.

  • mesunrise Jul 13, 2011

    Why can't this multi-use cultural center be incorporated somehow in the renovation of the former Cary Elementary School building? They have, from road observations, gutted the total insides of this historic building. Old time Caryites are so fed up with the destruction of so many buildings and tear down of so many old homes in downtown Cary. Cary needs to take a look at downtown Apex. Now, that is a charming place to be. We have missed the boat all the way around. Money thrown out the window one more time...been too many years since it was a movie theater. I remember when it was and then it went to a clothing store and then to auto parts. Give us a's a lost cause!!!!

  • NCCaniac Jul 13, 2011

    htomc42, that may have happened in Myrtle Beach, but as a better case in point, I give you the Cary Arts Center which opens this month with its grand opening in August. This is the renovation of the old Cary Elementary School (formerly the original Cary High School) into a multi-purpose center with theater, arts classrooms, art gallery, etc. This restored this historic building that was getting run down and shabby looking.

    It was supported by bond funds voted on and approved by Cary residents/voters. The economic downturn delayed the start, but that also allowed for COST SAVINGS due to contractors and supplies costing less due to the downturn in other construction. So it came in WITHIN budget and already has groups lining up to rent the place out. It will have stuff going on constantly which will draw people to downtown Cary and improve both the economy and cultural life. All this while holding property taxes flat the last few years.

    Please get some facts before you post.

  • wdprice3 Jul 13, 2011

    epic waste of taxpayer money! gg, cary!

  • genralwayne Jul 13, 2011

    It's Cary - where the power to tax is seldom accompanied with common sense. I mean $410,000 for an old auto parts building - and a mere million to refurbish it back into a 1950's movie theater. What a deal! So glad I moved to SW Raleigh.

  • htomc42 Jul 13, 2011

    Here's what happened in Myrtle Beach; google 'Rivoli' to find out more.

    The city buys an old abandoned movie theater for 750,000 with plans of building a performing arts center. But by the time everyone's wish lists are compiled, it will require several millions of renovations. There are some fund-raisers, but nothing really comes close, so it just sits.

    Now, there are plans for the city to pay $7M for a brand new building, with the arts council responsible for $2.5M. They are nowhere close, and some people (mainly, the council and those few people who want it) are hinting at having the city pick up the entire tab.

    This would be located near the big money-losing convention center with the big money-losing hotel attached to it.

    Keep in mind that these projects -NEVER- cost what they initially say, that the "wish list" tend to grow without reasonable bounds, and that in the end, the original structure will be inadequate, requiring a new one at higher taxpayer cost.