The build is on! Construction on Wayne Theatre to begin in September

wtaAn effort to rebuild the Wayne Theatre that began in 1999 will take a huge step forward with construction slated to begin in September.

The news was first made public Friday night to a live audience at the River City Radio Hour at the Gateway Theatre, a sister theatre to the Wayne, at the kickoff event to the Wayne Theatre Alliance’s 2013-2014 programming season.

“This is a major step forward,” said Clair Myers, the director of the Wayne Theatre Alliance, announcing the news in an email to current and past board members late Thursday night.

The WTA is an offshoot of a committee appointed by Waynesboro City Council in 1999 to explore possible uses for the closed downtown landmark, which opened in 1926 at the tail end of the vaudeville and silent-movie era. The nonprofit Alliance eventually settled on plans for repurposing the building into an arts and culture community center, and initiated a fundraising effort that included solicitations of private contributors, the sale of historic tax credits and some public funding from the City of Waynesboro.

The drive to meet the fundraising goal slowed a bit during the 2007-2009 recession, but Alliance leaders had been expressing confidence since the first of the year that construction would be getting under way soon.

In the email to current and past board members last night, Myers said the Alliance is able to move forward “because the organization is confident that the funds in hand will carry the project to the point where the construction loan and the tax credits closings are completed and the project will be able to continue uninterrupted.”

Mathers Construction in Waynesboro will be leading the rebuilding effort. The first phase of the project will complete the shell of the new Wayne Theatre. The focus will then shift to building the flytower, wings, and extension to the lounge area, and the excavation and shoring for the orchestra area. The project will as well bring the new waterline across Main Street and down the east side of the building, install the two vaults and do any underpinning that may necessary, and repair the roof and close the building from the weather.

“There should be no foreseeable reason why the Wayne Theatre, the best intimate theatre in Central Virginia, will not open in 2014. There are many hurdles to go and fundraising to do, but the light at the end of the tunnel is now insight. It is indeed a good day for TWA and for Waynesboro,” Myers said.