In just over three years we’ve seen the Bob White Theatre resurrected, rallied around, go dark again, re-lit with a series of raves, go dark again, and then pushed ever closer to becoming a legitimate music venue with a splattering of movies. But just as it reached that turning point, alas, it went dark again.
And that’s where we’re at now.
As we mentioned last week, the theater is back up for sale. This comes as negotiations between Nick Haas and the Bob White’s owner, Nick Storie, to buy the historic building went south. Obviously there are two sides to every story, but we do know that there were six months of back-and-forth negotiations, an increase in asking price, and a series of investors interested in partnering on the purchase. In the end, a deal couldn’t be had. And now we’re dark. Again.
So what does this mean for the theater’s future? Who knows. But save for a few renovations, we’re sort of back to where we were three plus years ago. There is one big difference, however: the theater has received a lot of publicity in the last few months. (Perhaps that’s why the asking price has been increased.) And with Foster’s neighborhood profile rising over the last couple years, the added publicity may fetch an investor with enough financial backing to get a deal done.
We spoke to Mr. Storie last week, and he wouldn’t comment on why a deal couldn’t be reached with Haas. (Haas’s journey to buy the theater, his plans, and an update on the subsequent failing of a deal can be found here.) But he did state that he won’t be “serving buttered popcorn” anytime soon, nor would he be hiring someone to manage the space. In essence, someone will have to buy the theater to see it become operational again. In Storie’s words, “For the price of two houses any member of the community can be the proud owner of the Bob White Theatre. Discounted trades accepted.” To be clear, that would be “any member of the community” who has two houses-worth of money.
When asked about trades, he made it clear he was talking about real estate (which is too bad, because I’m pretty sure my neighbor has enough scrap metal laying around his yard to get a deal done). And if you’re not trading real estate, it’ll cost you $450,000 for the theater. (It was bought in 2012 for $350,00; that price included the adjoining warehouse, which is not being offered as part of the current listing.)
So the question still remains: who’s got the dough (plus what’s needed for renovations)? And until that gets settled, just as with the Phoenix Pharmacy, the Foster District will have another historic building exuding potential but sitting idly.