City to be new owner of Bonnie Kate if approved by Council
Published 9:25 am Thursday, May 12, 2016
If the City Council approves in the meeting tonight, the City of Elizabethton could become the owner of the historic Bonnie Kate Theater.
The Elizabethton/Carter County Community Foundation (ECCF), a branch of the East Tennessee Foundation, raised funds for the purchase of the theater in the name of the city.
“It is going to hopefully transfer into the city’s hands soon after the meeting tomorrow, and then we’ll be starting to raise money for the renovation through the foundation as we did for the purchase money,” John Huber, a member of the ECCF, said Wednesday.
Councilmen must make two decisions. They must decide if they will accept the donation of the building, and they must vote on investing $25,800 for the purchase of the parking lot, which is a separate plot.
No bid was satisfactory at the theater auction in April, with the highest bid placed at $109,000. Bidders said they had to keep their offers low due to the cost of renovations needed.
Huber said if the building purchase is approved, the foundation will have three years to get the building to an operational state. He said they have two prospective tenants, a cafe and a bakery, for the spaces in the front of the building.
“Once approved, we will have to work out those arrangements,” Huber said.
In addition, he said the theater will be utilized as a full facility for public and private events and entertainment.
“The goal with the theater is what it always was,” he said, mentioning a performing arts venue which could possibly be utilized for weddings, live entertainment, live music and dance performances.
Concerning fundraising, Huber said he is hopeful, and that they have been speaking with state representatives regarding the matter.
“I’m pretty sure it will happen, and we’re applying for grants,” he said. “Once its in the city’s hands we can apply for several grants. It’s a trial and error sort of thing, but I’m pretty hopeful that some of the people we’ve talked to like State Senator Rusty Crowe and State Representative John Holsclaw will help to secure some of those funds.”
If Council approves the purchase of the parking lot, Huber said it will be public downtown parking.