Board takes steps toward Jackson Theatre’s rebirth

Progress on Jonesborough’s Jackson Theatre project has been stalled, but the Board of Mayor and Alderman passed resolutions that will help it move forward at Monday night’s BMA meeting.

JacksonTheatre1-1The project will require several renovations to become functional, the most pressing of which is the lack of framework behind the facade.

According to documents in the agenda, a lot of the brickwork on the building’s face supports itself, as no framework was constructed to support it when the front windows were bricked over in the 1940s. The board voted 3-1 to declare the facade blighted and in need of repair, in addition to other repairs to meet modern standards.

The board will work toward a $100,000 facade grant to help meet the costs of reworking the facade of the building, according to the agenda documents.

In addition, the board voted 3-1 to accept the purchase of the adjacent building, formerly owned by Charles Allen, on donated funds from Sonia King and Mayor Kelly Wolfe. The extra building would increase the cost of overall renovation, but would remove unknown factors like the potential layout of the building.

Alderman David Sell cast his negative vote not because he is opposed to the project, he said, but because he said he thought aldermen should more closely consider the operating costs of the theater.

“To me, I see a good thing here that could turn great, but you’ve got to be realistic in the costs and make sure that we’re not going to have something that’s going to be a burden,” Sell said.

Sell went on to argue that projected costs seemed to be on the rise with the building and said he didn’t want another incident like the Seniors Center that would force the town stretch over budget to accommodate new costs as the project would progress. He said he would feel more comfortable progressing if he had a projected business plan for the theater, but the other aldermen voted in favor of progressing with the project.

“We certainly have a good track record,” Alderman Terry Countermine added to the discussion. “Our track record shows that when we do something we do do it well, and it results in people coming here and living here and spending money in the stores.

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