Brook Run Theater, which was designed in the 1960s and built in 1966, sits in Brook Run Park in a state of disrepair. Engineers say it needs to be gutted to be restored and the cost will be at least $5 million.

Renovating the Brook Run Theater would cost anywhere from $5.1 million to $6.8 million dollars, engineer Kevin McOmber said June 22 during a Dunwoody City Council meeting. He didn’t recommend renovation and said proponents for a theater in Dunwoody must determine the community’s needs—a process that is now underway.

The 50-year-old theater within Brook Run Park has been shuttered since the 1990s. It’s part of a larger building that contains other rooms, all in bad shape.

“In order to renovate this facility, it truly needs to be completely gutted,” he said. “Really, the structure is the only remaining component that appears to be in good condition.”

The Brook Run Theater review came out of ongoing discussions about bigger and better arts events facilities in the city. Brook Run Conservancy President Danny Ross announced at the council meeting that he and a committee have begun a process of interviewing about 30 people involved with arts, theater and organizations such as the Convention and Visitors Bureau to determine not only the needs for a theater, but also what kind of support exists in the community.

“If the support is not there, then this probably isn’t a very good venture for the city of Dunwoody to get into,” Ross said.

Community pressure for more multicultural events has been growing since March, when Ross asked city council to help fund a $40,000 feasibility study. Ross announced June 22 a committee had formed to help determine what the community wants and how community groups would help support a theater.

Two months ago, the city asked McOmber to take another look at the Brook Run Theater and determine a potential cost for restoration. Clark Patterson Lee Design, of which McOmber is vice president and a member of the board of directors, completed a study of Brook Run Theater in 2011.

“We found a number of new deficiencies,” he said, such as broken heating and air conditioning systems that led to mold growth. Despite attempts to keep people out, the theater had been broken into, and resulting damage requires the building to be completely gutted, McOmber said.

A third party, TSG Design Solutions, Inc., evaluated the acoustics to determine what types of activities could take place in the theater, which was designed as a “typical multipurpose theater” for the 1960s and built in 1966. The facility would have to be updated to comply with energy and Americans with Disabilities Act codes as well as advanced technology in programming.

Councilman Terry Nall said that he and other council members think Brook Run Park is not the best place for a theater. Mayor Mike Davis added that he fears “being the savior of last resort and not being convinced it’s in the right place in the city in the first place.”

Davis asked McOmber what it might cost to operate the Brook Run Theater on a yearly basis were it restored. He said he assumes it would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

McOmber said labor would be the most expensive operating cost.

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