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Rocky Mount council discusses proposed performance center
The town is the eastern gateway for The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail. Council members discussed how to pay for a music center and how profitable it would be.
Monday, March 11, 2013
The town wants to lure people to downtown Rocky Mount but repel pigeons.
The Rocky Mount Town Council tackled these topics and more Monday night.
Officials who believe the town could benefit more from its key location along a music heritage trail continued discussion about taking a municipal foray into the entertainment business.
Matt Hankins, Rocky Mount’s assistant town manager and community development director, has been the point person on a performance center proposed for a vacant building downtown at 405 Franklin St.
Hankins told the town council Monday that conservative estimates calculated with the assistance of an experienced promoter suggest the center could turn a profit of about $65,750 during its first year of operation.
That figure was based on an assumption of hosting 175 events, ranging from jam sessions to headline acts. As envisioned, the center would have two full-time employees.
Hankins said a general manager would ideally be hired this spring to begin booking acts for the venue.
Rocky Mount is the eastern gateway for The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Music Heritage Trail.
On Friday, eight general contractors submitted bids on the work that would convert the 16,000-square-foot building into a venue that could host music and other performances. Built in 1946, the structure has housed an International Harvester dealership, Lynch Hardware and small businesses. The town bought the building in November 2011 for $246,750.
Franklin County-based Price Buildings submitted what appeared to be the low bid Friday, with a base bid of just less than $2.2 million.
Hankins has said the town could pursue a number of financing options, including tapping savings and investments, to pay for the conversion. And he said estimates suggest that historic tax credits could help the town recoup about $800,000 of the project costs.
Councilmen Bobby Moyer and Bobby Cundiff have expressed concern about the project and have voted against using taxpayer money to risk tying the town to an entertainment venue.
Both men peppered Hankins with questions Monday night, and Moyer voiced concerns that the center would sometimes serve alcohol.
Hankins expressed optimism about the venue’s possibilities.
“We really have the potential here for something special,” he said.
Earlier, the council agreed to hire a falconer based in North Carolina to respond to problems associated with pigeons roosting near The Hub restaurant and the Exchange Milling feed mill downtown.
Charles “Chip” Gentry, owner and operator of Hawk Manor Falconry, has quoted a price of $4,980.80 for the pigeon abatement. His proposal to the town reported that “we should have no problem eliminating at least 90 percent of the pigeons at this location.”
Several members of the council wondered about the long-term effectiveness of the intervention. But there seemed to be consensus that the town values The Hub restaurant and Exchange Milling and ought to do what it can to address the pigeon problem.
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