Local News

Roanoke Rapids to sell disappointing theater for $7.1M

Posted December 1, 2011

— The City Council unanimously approved a deal Thursday to sell the financially floundering Roanoke Rapids Theatre for $7.1 million cash, Mayor Emery Doughtie said.

Roanoke Rapids borrowed almost $22 million in 2005 to build the 1,500-seat theater along Interstate 95. The city signed the brother of entertainer Dolly Parton to manage and perform at the then-named Randy Parton Theater, but that deal soured.

City taxpayers are now paying nearly $2 million a year to repay the loan and fund operating costs at the theater, which has never lived up to expectations to attract tourists to the area.

Roanoke Rapids officials last month tentatively agreed to sell the theater to Chicago businessman Lafayette Gatling, whose previous deal was terminated because he didn't make payments. The $7.1 million lump-sum payment he has agreed to amounts to about half of the cost of the building itself, Doughtie said.

The city still owes about $19 million on the loan, he said.

"This is a good deal for the city," Doughtie said. "We realize there is still significant debt on the theater, but this will allow us the time to refinance the debt to hopefully to pay it off at a significantly lower rate."

Once Gatling signs the contract, Roanoke Rapids must advertise the deal for 10 days for a possible upset bid before the sale becomes official. Doughtie said everyone has agreed to try to close the deal within 60 days.


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  • RomneyRyan2012 Dec 2, 2011

    Where it sits is really strange...all by itself off the interstate. Maybe the new owner can make it work somehow and the city will still get some more of its money back in visitor/tourist money.

  • The Fox Dec 2, 2011

    [Yet another reason Govts - local, state, fed - should stay OUT of the market place.
    RR local Govt attempted to create infrastructure etc for this nonsense...
    Guess what: THE MARKET SAID NO....!!!!]Remember also that State Law was changed just before this boondoggle to allow the politicos to make these kind of end run decisions without a public vote on the matter. Before this a public vote was required to appove bond and other issues.

  • avnvideo Dec 2, 2011

    innerview with Randy as he was asked to leave


  • avnvideo Dec 2, 2011

    Randy's facebook page


  • avnvideo Dec 2, 2011

    several articles on the theatre and Randy


  • avnvideo Dec 2, 2011

    the newspaper article on the new theatre


  • mayhem Dec 2, 2011

    I can't believe they found a chump who would give them $7.1 million!

  • avnvideo Dec 2, 2011

    All right, let's review.

    It wasn't a terrible decision to build the theater.

    No,just a huge mistake placing it in the middle of nowhere.

  • corey3rd Dec 2, 2011

    the city still has to pay what's left of the $14 million difference. This isn't a forgotten issue.

  • RoRap99 Dec 2, 2011

    "This is a prime example of why people that know nothing about business should run one."

    Mayor Doughtie is probably the most successful business owner and entrepenuer in Roanoke Rapids. He also is one of the most humble people I know. Just last week, I saw him changing a tire at Steve's Tire Co. which is owned by Doughtie Enterprises.

    He was not the mayor when this theatre was brought to RR, but I trust that if he feels this was the only option, that he is right. Say what you want about him, but he KNOWS business and he cares about our community.