Archived Story

Turnage Theater hits the market

Published 8:36pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013

If the fate of the Turnage Theater is an ongoing saga, the next installment bears a $750,000 price tag.
The historic theater on West Main Street, Washington, closed its doors in December 2011, was foreclosed upon and sold to Wells Fargo Bank on the Beaufort County Courthouse steps in November 2012 and is now up for sale, listed with The Rich Company.
“$750,000 is the asking price, which is relatively small compared to what was put into to it,” said Tom Atkins, the listing agent for the property.
At the time of the Turnage’s massive renovation, the old theater and movie house had been boarded up and unused for 16 years. It took 11 more years and millions of dollars of both public and private money to restore the theater to its former glory.
Atkins said he’s had a few inquiries about the property, but he’s actively marketing to those in theater-related fields.
“Hopefully, someone will come in who is interested in preserving the Turnage,” Atkins said.
Atkins said another option, and worst-case scenario, for the bank would be to dismantle the parts of the theater — sound and lighting systems, commercial kitchen equipment, theater seating — to sell if the theater doesn’t find a buyer.
While the City of Washington expressed an interest in purchasing the theater before it was sold to Wells Fargo, City Manager Josh Kay said the city has no interest in purchasing the property for $750,000, but that doesn’t mean the city has lost interest in the property.
“We’re putting together some good strategies that include the Turnage,” Kay said. “We’re still actively working towards hotel development.”
To shore up a landmark like an operating Turnage Theater, it’s a hotel that could be the anchor for downtown prosperity, Atkins said.
“It’s the one thing we’re missing downtown,” Atkins explained. “We’ve got such a jewel in our downtown, but I’ve always been a believe that our biggest asset is the waterfront — it can be a destination location.”

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