Wednesday, November 14, 2007

One building saved; one remains

Yesterday's State of the City speech by Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon contained a dramatic announcement: the Varsity Theater has been given a new lease on life due to the efforts of Cole and others working behind the scenes.

I was so excited about the news that I stopped in WDBX at the suggestion of Tom Egert and Paula Bradshaw to tell the station's listeners.

In Cole's words:
Several people are responsible for making this happen. First, of course, the Kerasotes family and Kerasotes Theaters company should be thanked and thanked again. Also, we should thank Trace Brown and Charlie Brown and Associates for doing a thorough inspection of the property and detailing an appraisal that makes it financially worthwhile for the company to donate it to us. And, without a doubt, all the people that have supported me behind the scenes (pun intended) to work with the property owners to get to this point… that specifically includes people like Blanche and Fred Sloan and Trish and John Guyon.
People like them, yes, but not people like me -- or Rob Gallegly and Bob Streit, who worked tirelessly on SAVE. But every time I visited the Mayor's office, I'd ask about the big V. And Cole checks out this blog occasionally, and he may have read the last sentence in my blook teaser chapter about the Varsity Theater. It's time for a new sample chapter. . . . But what?

Of the other chapters in the table of contents, none have the community-wide interest, and on-going drama of the Varsity Theater closing The only thing close to it, is the Saluki Way development, which I have mostly ignored in this blog, because others are on top of it.

How about a chapter on the Tuscan Lodge? The old building on the corner of Washington and Jackson St. is the next landmark building in desperate need of restoration. . . . For the past few months, I've been working on a project that would benefit this restoration effort: a hip-hop, blues, and jazz music festival on the property behind the building, and a street fair in the 200 block of N. Washington St. . . .

A few weeks ago I met with Megan (no relation to Brad) Cole, director of Carbondale Main Street, about CMS co-sponsoring the event in the Spring.

Perhaps Larue Love, and other owners of the Tuscan Lodge should contact the Guyons or the Sloans for a hopeful push.


Anonymous said...

Ah, the Varsity. Thank you David for remembering the efforts of SAVE. I still remember the Mayor's words on how the city would not get involved with the theater. But here they are. I wonder how much of the SAVE proposal will be worked into the plans for the building. I still have my video and pictures from when we did a walkthrough of the building.

The big important thing is that SOMETHING is going to be done with that building. That is a good building that can help anchor downtown life and, if done properly, help build a thriving arts community. Even though I'm not in the trenches helping, I will celebrate the day when the Varsity will be back in business.

-Rob Gallegly

Unknown said...

I'm glad to see something finally happening here, I was tired of driving by the old building and dreaming about converting it into Carbondale's only craft brewery. Oh well, it didn't have sufficient parking anyway. I'll just have to find another worthy spot!

Best of luck to those who will directly benefit from the building's donation.