By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 6/3/21
For the last few years, Broadway has been looking to purchase a historic building that previously served as part of the first Broadway High School.
On Tuesday, the wait came to an end.
Broadway Town Council unanimously approved purchasing the property, located at 131 S. Main St., with the idea of transforming the space into a multiuse theater similar to Bridgewater’s Sipe Center.
“It’s exciting,” Town Manager Kyle O’Brien said. “It’s really going to be a flagship venue off South Main Street.”
The building currently houses the Oliver Art House, which moved into the building in late 2020. Before that, the property was vacant for five years after Poultry Specialties moved out.
O’Brien said the town will purchase the property for $330,000 and hopes to take ownership in July. The Oliver Art House will remain in the building.
Once the purchase is finalized, O’Brien said, the town will move forward with design work.
“It will have a lot of uses,” he said. “It’s a great building and has lots of potential and storage areas.”
The primary vision the town has for the property is to transform it into a theater capable of hosting performances and events on a weekly basis.
Based on preliminary renderings created by Miller Cupp Associates Architects, the
theater would have a stage and auditorium with 103 seats, including four wheelchair-accessible spaces. O’Brien said the seats could be pushed back to accommodate reception space if needed.
A timeline and name of the theater had not been determined as of Wednesday. However, O’Brien said it is likely the theater will be open before the proposed rail-to-trail project between Broadway and Front Royal, which is pending approval, is completed.
“It’ll be revenue-generating,” O’Brien said.
Bridgewater’s Sipe Center quickly became a crowd-pleaser after opening in November 2019. The multipurpose theater located at the intersection of North Main and College streets features 154 theater-style seats and hosts live performances and second- run film showings.
Within its first two months of operation, the Sipe Center brought in $94,000 in revenue and hosted several sold-out shows.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Town Council held a public hearing on its proposed $7 million budget for fiscal year 2021-22, which received no comments.
The budget includes no tax increases or utility fee hikes, and has funding for several highway and street projects.
The budget does not include anticipated funding from the American Rescue Plan, which was signed by President Joe Biden on March 11, but the town plans to use funds to provide a $750 credit to all residents with a connection to the town’s water system.
The town is also looking to provide grants for small businesses through American Rescue Plan funding. Qualifying businesses will receive a $10,000 direct check. Businesses that do not qualify for $10,000 will receive a $500 check, according
to a previous interview with O’Brien.
A timeline for when funding will be given to residents and business owners remains up in the air.
O’Brien said Town Council will hold a special meeting on June 28 to adopt the proposed budget, which will go into effect July 1.
Other items on Tuesday’s agenda included a public comment period during which roughly five residents raised concerns over a single-family development proposed by Sunset Drive LLC.
The development consists of 21 single-family detached houses to be located on the west side of South Sunset Drive, approximately 2,000 feet north of Cedar Run Trail and south of West Springbrook Road.
During a May 4 meeting, the development was approved by Broadway’s Planning Commission, but tabled by Town Council following concerns raised by residents over traffic.
O’Brien said the development remains tabled, and additional traffic studies are pending.