Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis is questioning publicly whether the city should spend millions of dollars to renovate the theater building in Brook Run Park.

“For a theater, that [building] is in the wrong place,” Davis told more than 50 people attending a city-sponsored “town hall” meeting at Georgia Perimeter College on April 29. “There’s not enough parking, not enough night life. It’s in a residential area.”

He called the park “absolutely the worst place for a theater.”

Dunwoody City Council voted on April 13 to seek bids from consultants who would study the feasibility of fixing the deteriorating theater building. Representatives of the Brook Run Conservancy have asked the city to consider the feasibility of saving the structure.

Davis estimated that restoring the theater could cost $5 million and questioned whether that would be a reasonable use of city money. The 50-year-old building hasn’t been used regularly in about two decades, he said.

“We can certainly look at what it would cost to fix … but in my mind, that’s the last place we’d build a theater,” he said.

Davis, who pointed out that other council members may disagree with him, said he and other city officials might consider building a new theater in conjunction with a future city hall. The city may plan to build city office space within the next five years, he said.

He said it might make more sense to locate a theater in the Dunwoody Village area, the Perimeter area or in the Georgetown area, parts of the city where it would be near restaurants and larger areas of parking.

“For $5 million, we could build a theater in the right part of town,” he said.

Lynne Byrd, vice president of the conservancy, said after the town hall that members of the group believe the building can be restored as a working theater. The building, she said, includes areas for stage sets and backdrops and stained glass windows.

“I just think that instead of starting from scratch and spending much more money, we should take the good bones of that theater.” she said.

Other residents argued the building had good acoustics. “It’s a wonderful place…,” resident Barbara Pryor said. “There are a lot of possibilities there.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

4 replies on “Dunwoody’s mayor questions whether the city should spend millions to renovate Brook Run theater”

  1. There are two straw men in the Mayor’s argument. First is parking. At the moment, across the street from the theatre are 50 spaces where Food Truck Thursday’s are held (including the on-street, nose-in parking.) The area immediately infront of the theatre where the other buildings stood has space for at least 80-90 parking spaces, without impacting the usefulness of the park whatsoever. This space is used typically as overflow for Food Truck Thursday, now. A 525 seat auditorium/theater requires 130 parking spaces, by code. There are an additional 40-50 spaces within easy walking distance on the far side of the skate park, that would also be available. All of this parking is available with minimal to no impact on the park, itself.

    Second, with the exception of the Perimeter, neither Dunwoody Village nor Georgetown are populated with 1st-tier restaurants. Current theatre goers do not walk the 2 blocks from the village to the Stage Door center, no reason to believe that they would walk to a new theatre either. Where the City Hall complex is likely to go also does not have any first-tier restaurants.

    The decision on whether or not to use Brook Run ought to be made purely on whether the old building can be re-habilitated for significantly less than the cost of building a comparable facility elsewhere.

    1. Thank you Greg for a well researched and thought out response to the location issue. Now the acoustics are being brought into the discussion. Shortly there will be a video posted on YouTube that will refute this myth. The Mayor suggest that a new theater could be built in Perimeter Center, Georgetown or Dunwoody Village for $5 million. Sandy Springs is building a theater at a cost of $41 million that does not include the cost of the land (which by the way they purchased using imminent domaine). The Conservancy is moving forward with the feasibility study without using any city funds. We will let the facts speak for themselves.

  2. Assuming that the settlement for the park bonds lawsuit with DeKalb county is 4.5 million dollars, what percentage of the settlement should go towards a multi use field located in the back of the park vs. the theater? Also how does the conservancy see the priority in one project over the other?

Comments are closed.