The Dunwoody City Council voted July 10 to seek bids to demolish the Brook Run theater, putting to rest the controversy of what to do with the shuttered building that has dogged the community for more than a year.

Councilmember Lynn Deutsch holds up a report from the Brook Run Conservancy on the theater/community center. (Photo Dyana Bagby)

Councilmember Lynn Deutsch made the motion to seek bids for demolition. The vote was 6 to 1 with Mayor Denis Shortal casting the lone “no” vote.

“I’m not convinced the expenditure or the holding of city resources on this project is a good use of our limited resources … as it relates to our parks,” Deutsch said.

Deutsch said she thoroughly read the Brook Conservancy’s report on the theater and the Brook Run Conservancy’s 57-page report on the theater project, which recently became a community center project as the Conservancy sought to rebrand the proposed venture. She said she also carefully read the city’s recent Parks Survey.

“In our Park Survey, over and over again, the top three priorities are pretty similar and they are not a theater, not a community center, not senior center,” Deutsch said.

Putting the city’s parks master on hold for Brook Run Park and the community center didn’t seem fair, either, she said. “And I’m not sure that’s a challenge most citizens of Dunwoody want us to take,” she said.

Shortal worried that voting to demolish the theater building that could also serve as a community center would anger longtime community volunteers.

“We’re undermining a lot of citizens tonight, a lot of our rich talent,” he said.

Councilmember John Heneghan asked that the demolition bids include ways to save the stained glass windows located in the building’s chapel.

After the vote, Danny Ross, president of the Brook Run Conservancy, was noticeably upset by the vote.

“To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement,” he said. “They’re going to kill the community … the spirit of volunteerism.”

Former DeKalb CEO Liane Levetan, whose name is part of Brook Run Park, said the vote was a “tragedy” and said the building was a “last vestige of our history.”

Rick Callihan, a Dunwoody Homeowners Association board member, was pleased with the vote.

“I think it’s a victory for the children of Dunwoody,” he said. “This clears the way for sports fields to be built in Brook Run Park.”

A recent estimated cost to demolish the building came in at slightly more than $350,000.

The closed off Brook Run Theater includes stained glass windows. (Photo Dyana Bagby)

13 replies on “Dunwoody City Council votes to bulldoze Brook Run theater”

    1. Every community, every person deserves three things: A past, a present, and a future. If you want just a happy life, live in the present. If you want a meaningful life, use the past to build the present to enhance the future.–Tom Reilly

  1. The tragedy in this is not in the building itself but that Dunwoody will continue not to have a state of the art performance and meeting facility. Since you have decided not to renovate the current building because of the deplorable way DeKalb County allowed the building to disintegrate then build a new one as quickly as possible. In the interim build a concert shell on an open lawn area. Ball parks are nice but this insane demand for them is a reversion to the uncultured image of the old south and is not reflective of the current educational and cultural state of Dunwoody residents and taxpayers. The space occupied by the theater is only big enough to big a ball park for two year olds. Among all the ball parks we can certainly find space enough for a performance and meeting center.

    1. This was about the DeKalb parks bond settlement and a small (very small) group of people trying to save a theater…that is in the wrong location. If you want an arts center, then raise the Spruill Center on Chamblee Dunwoody. That’s in the correct location. The children of Dunwoody should be proud of their city council.

    2. I believe Crown Towers had a proposal for a community/civic/theater center. Unfortunately, they felt city council would vote them down and walked away. Also, unsure why they felt this way. Unless they come back with a different/scaled down proposal? Seemed like a good option.

  2. Good night. Can we please move on. Kids use the building at night because it is haunted. Just like they did the hospital. Actually, maybe we could save it for that reason alone? No? Old confederate soldier walking around.

    Let’s move the dog park again then. Its been a couple of years now. You know, Dad’s, dogs and all.

  3. During the County’s ownership the theater was used by the residents. This was not Dekalb County neglect,it is the City who let it go. It was also all the folks who suddenly after years of having the opportunity failed to take any action. Even the last four months when they were told specifically what was expected they once again failed.
    Now this group can focus on the Farm House and raise money for that truly historical facility. A project that they are already partners with the city.
    Time to move on and build for the future of this city and a 50 year old dilapidated, non historical not architecturally significant is not where you want to spend over $2,000,000 of limited city park resources.
    We have real needs and this was not one, other than to satisfy the egos of a few residents who say THEY know whats best

  4. and for the record Councilwoman Deutsch did a magnificent job in her motion. It showed she did her own homework. Corrected the misinformation that the Save the theater group had been spreading. Despite what Mr. Ross says, the spirit of Dunwoody will survive and prosper.no one is in “peril” as he threatened earlier. It would be sad to see some of the hard working dedicated folks pack their bags and walk away because they lost a battle.
    The city has two historical farmhouses, and a questionably historic fireplace and chimney. This theater did not come close to any of those.
    Finally as the council woman pointed out, we have an arts Center and a theater. May not be “state of the art but we have it. Time to move on and move forward together. If Mr Ross and a few other decide to back out, we will miss them but the city will continue to prosper

  5. The “questionably historic fireplace and chimney” were proven beyond reasonable doubt by the Dunwoody Preservation Trust to be priceless nineteenth century artifacts. Bob, don’t you remember Danny Ross chewing out attorney Dennis Webb in front of the city Council for daring to say otherwise??

  6. Were I an investigative reporter I’d be looking into a potential “kickback” between the demolition company and members of the council to destroy the theatre. The reasons given by the council are as shallow as street puddle.

    1. Tom D – I would highly recommend that you provide evidence with your otherwise defaming language. A demolition company will be chosen via standard RFP process.

      Any underwriter, financier (or high school accounting student) would have balked at the proposed “business plan” for saving the theater.

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