Local News

Roanoke Rapids considering buy-out offer for troubled theater

Posted October 17, 2008

— The city of Roanoke Rapids may soon be out of the theater business, but the terms are far from ideal, Mayor Drewery Beale said Friday.

The city's theater advisory committee is recommending that the city accept a proposal from Chicago businessman Lafayette Gatling to purchase the Roanoke Rapids Theater for $12.5 million.

Gatling's monthly payments would fall far short of the $142,000 per month that the city owes on the loan taken to fund the project.

The city received 21 bids from groups seeking to either buy or manage the troubled theater.

Where Beale and City Manager Phyllis Lee see a way out of a bad situation, others see a raw deal. "I don't need to be a mathematician to figure out that's a loss," Gene Minton, chairman of the Halifax County Board of Commissioners, said.

"It's actually a gain," Lee said, "because right now, the city is paying the full amount."

The problem, Beale pointed out, is that no buyer would be willing to pay the full $21.5 million that the city borrowed for the project. That loan included the $13.5 million that it cost the build the theater, plus other expenses, such as a $3 million personal account provided to then-headliner Randy Parton.

The costs associated with the theater have already prompted a tax hike in Roanoke Rapids, but neither Beale nor Lee anticipated passing additional costs to local residents.

The city will hold public hearings on the bid on Oct. 28. The city council will make a final decision on Gatling's offer some time after that. 


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  • In the meantime... Oct 17, 2008

    Ok, let's try this again. RR is right on I-95, right in the middle of NY and Florida - you're not exactly asking people to drive out to BFE to see a concert, etc. It's really narrow-minded to think that a well-run entertainment district, in such a location, could not work.

    Check out many successful entertainment scenes & how they actually came about. I'll help you. Two quick examples of so very many:


    It actually will require some planning, smarts & time, but it can happen.

    Gene Minton, continue be one of the strong, smart ones on this, please.

  • smitty Oct 17, 2008

    Funny that people still think it will work. I still say turn it into a strip club.

  • 07GoldWinger Oct 17, 2008

    Randy Parton is LOL!

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Oct 17, 2008

    foetine that is the best idea anyone could come up with.

  • foetine Oct 17, 2008

    Here's a great way to solve this problem: Arson. It's what mobsters do to failing business propositions. Burn and collect the insurance.

  • Fun Oct 17, 2008

    They ALL should be voted out of office!

  • Like It TI is Oct 17, 2008

    If I lived in Roanoke Rapids I would be up in arms. Anyone with half a brain would have known that this venture would fail from the very beginning. I mean come on..Randy Parton in Roanoke Rapids? The city is just going to have to take a loss on this one. The voters should handle the misguided town politicians in the next election.

  • jsanders Oct 17, 2008

    The whole sordid history of this theater, from idea to boondoggle, is avaiable at http://www.carolinajournal.com/exclusives/series.html?id=31

  • stupiditydeservesnosympathy Oct 17, 2008

    Why would anyone stop at Roanoke Rapids when Raleigh is down the road. Nothing could have saved this disaster in the making. I feel sorry for the people of Roanoke Rapids who are stuck footing the bill for this get rich scheme. Lets hope they remember the names of the idiots who created this disaster.

  • Igor Oct 17, 2008

    The place is what accountants call a "sunk cost"...time to cut it loose, and hope that the buyeers can make it work. If they can, then the area may get their losses back in time through increased visitor revenue, but I am not holding my breath on that...