Study envisions new future for State Theatre
By Sharon Hayes
Published January 9th, 2010 | 0 Comments
Workers with Wagner Electric Sign Co. anchor the theater’s new retro marquee to the overhang in this file photo. Erica Yoon.
KINGSPORT — The State Theatre is worth saving.
That’s the verdict of an economic impact study commissioned by the Kingsport Economic Development Board to determine the viability of restoring the old theater on Broad Street.
The study was conducted by the Cinema Preservation Group of Asheville, N.C., and presented to the KEDB and other community members last week at the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce.
Ivan Eisenberg, with the Cinema Preservation Group, said a restored State Theatre has the potential to generate as much as $660,000 in annual revenues, while the city could see an increase in spending of nearly $900,000 as a result of the theater. The study suggested the theater could draw more than 110,000 people annually to the downtown area, resulting in more opportunities for other downtown businesses, more potential investment in the downtown district, and more tax dollars for the city.
“I believe there is absolutely a way to make this profitable,” Eisenberg said.
Dating back to the 1930s, the State Theatre is now owned by developer Doug Beatty, who acquired the property in 2005 and began renovations in 2006. Since then, Beatty has opened Bone Fire (formerly called 12 Bones restaurant), restored the old Kingsport Grocery Co. and opened a restaurant there, and opened the Bus Pit, a renovated music venue. All three of those ventures are located on Main Street.
Beatty has said that taking on so many projects was a big load on his shoulders — and then the bottom dropped out of the economy in the fall of 2008.
Beatty is now willing to sell the theater property. He has invested more than $650,000 in the facility, including $450,000 in renovation costs. Demolition, electrical and plumbing work is finished, while the theater still needs a new heating and cooling system, drywall and finishing work, and interior furnishings.