CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Plans for a modern performing arts center in Downtown Clarksville moved forward last week as the City of Clarksville completed the purchase of the Roxy building at 100 Franklin St. from Roxy Theatre Productions Inc.
The City Council voted Feb. 4 on second reading to purchase the downtown theater, and the transaction closed on Friday, March 5. The City paid $810,000 for a clean-title purchase of the Roxy property, based on a current appraisal of the land and building’s value. Closing costs pushed the final total to $812,893.
In preparation for the sale, the City Council also approved a lease agreement with Roxy Productions Inc. which gives the theatre company operational control of the transformed City-owned center and outlines duties and obligations of both parties.
“The Roxy is so pleased to be partnering with the City to bring a new performing arts center to downtown and a new home for the Roxy Theatre,” said Stacy Turner, president of the Roxy Board. “This is a huge benefit to downtown, and for arts and culture in our community. Overall it’s just an amazing thing.”
Mayor Pitts has described the Roxy as “an esteemed part of Clarksville’s history.”
“This project will allow us to preserve and enhance the future of the Roxy,” Mayor Pitts said before last month’s final vote. “It allows us to provide an entertainment venue that will drive activity and investment in our downtown. It will enhance educational services in the fine arts and add tremendous cultural value to our community.”
Under the plan envisioned by the City and the Roxy Board of Directors, the City will combine the Roxy property with adjacent tracts already owned by the City to construct the new performing arts center. Discussions are underway about how to incorporate the Roxy marquee and the historical facade of the old building into the new facility.
The City will select a design architect and construction manager for the project. The building design will include input from the Roxy board and the community.
Roxy Productions Inc. will be the facility’s operator and resident theater company. It will occupy leased office space, performance and rehearsal space, and backstage carpentry and storage space. It will work to book the facility’s events and plan its educational and cultural offerings.
Planning for a new downtown performing arts center began in earnest in 2013, when then-Mayor Kim McMillan and the City Council contracted with Arts Consulting Group to conduct a phased feasibility study and evaluation of possible downtown sites. That work concluded that The Roxy site was the best option, in part because the city owned adjacent tracts and because the theater company and its location had been a mainstay of the local arts community for decades.
The feasibility study also concluded there was an active and interested base of arts consumers in the immediate area, and that more theatrical, comedy, and family programming in downtown Clarksville would be welcomed and supported.
The Arts Consulting Group executive summary recommended building a $35 million venue with a main 500-seat theater, 120-seat flexible Studio Theater, offices and back shop facilities, and a large lobby that could handle meetings and receptions. Those recommendations have never been formally adopted, and some of those proposed features could change in the design process.
Roxy Executive Director Ryan Bowie, left, looks on as Roxy Board President Stacy Turner and Mayor
Joe Pitts sign documents to conclude the sale of the Roxy Theatre to the City of Clarksville.
Roxy Board members applaud as the sale of the Roxy Theatre to the City of Clarksville is concluded.