Representatives from the Brook Run Conservancy and Dunwoody Preservation Trust are slated to give a fundraising update to renovate the Brook Run Theater to City Council members at the July 11 meeting.
The council voted March 14 to give supporters of Brook Run Theater, now named the Brook Run Center, until July 11 to come up with a financial feasibility study to prove they can raise the millions needed to renovate the shuttered structure.
However, the update provided to the council for the meeting, which states renovation costs will be $7 million, states that the conservancy is ready to hire a firm to conduct a feasibility study “as soon as we receive your vote of support for saving this building and allowing us to return it to a community asset.”
The conservancy recently brought on a volunteer PR person and is rebranding the theater project as more of a community and art center.
“I think we misbranded this,” said Danny Ross, president of the Brook Run Conservancy, in a recent interview. “This is far more than a theater.”
At the March 12 meeting, council members said if they learn on July 11 that the conservancy financial feasibility study comes back and says the money cannot be raised or raised in a reasonable amount of time deemed by council members to renovate the building, the council is ready to accept bids beginning July 12 to demolish it.
Ross has said, however, that not having the City Council’s approval for the project makes raising money nearly impossible.
“We’ve never raised money in this community,” Ross said. “And when we have council members saying they want to tear it down — can you imagine putting your money into such a project? It’s like pushing string uphill. We’ve got to get our council on board, but also back away and give us time to do it.”
Councilmember Jim Riticher said at the March 14 meeting that if the supporters cannot meet the goals set, then demolition will have to be put back on the table. He also said that while he was sitting in a room full of a supporters wearing green at that meeting, there were likely just as many who opposed the idea.
“There’s the forgotten man out there, who doesn’t want to have conflict with the people wearing green … but he doesn’t want taxpayer money spent on this and would rather have it spent on … public infrastructure,” he said.
Councilmember John Heneghan toured the shuttered building and posted to his blog and Facebook page photos that show mold in the building.