Virginia Theater Revitalization $ 13 Million Bond Initiative Approved

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SOMERSET, Ky. (WTVQ) Somerset City Council members unanimously approved on Monday a $ 13 million municipal bond initiative that includes $ 2 million to revitalize one of downtown’s most beloved historic buildings – the Virginia Theater .

The bonds approved Monday also refinance $ 7 million in existing projects – a fire truck, the purchase and demolition of Cundiff Square, a Kentucky Rural Water Fund loan and a Citizens Bank loan for Mid-Town Sewer – a saving of over $ 800,000 for the city’s taxpayers. .

The city will use an additional $ 4 million for new projects, including a state-mandated dewatering system at the wastewater treatment plant.

The Virginia will be completely renovated and converted into a performance hall. Somerset’s DECO Architects have developed renderings for the building and tendering for the project will begin immediately.

The Virginia will also host performances from the Flashback Theater, Somerset’s local production company, and will be available for hire for weddings and other private events.

The city will own and maintain the facility, which will include live music and theater and be available for rent as a community event space.

The agreement between the two entities limits the use of Virginia for artistic, entertainment and historical purposes and states that if the building is not complete or functional by the end of 2022, it could revert to DSDC at that time.

Mayor Alan Keck said he expects the facility to open in 2022, just in time for the 100e anniversary of the building.

Built in 1922, the struggling Virginia – once a staple of the downtown landscape, serving as a theater and later a cinema – has been vacant for more than 25 years.

There have been many attempts to raise funds to revive the building, the latest efforts have been focused on the replacement of the roof and the disposal of hazardous materials, theater seats and the old cinema balcony.

The board of directors of the Downtown Somerset Development Corporation voted in September to sell the building, which the organization had owned since 2003, to the city for $ 1.

Keck said the city will partner with a production company to book live music events, with a request for proposals to be released soon to begin this research.

The project was commissioned in 2018 and should have been handled by the previous administration, Keck said, but can now be executed with funding in place. Sewer line extensions for industries and new sewage pumping stations are also part of this initiative.

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