Moving forward as theater: Hogansville council votes to renovate city hall as performing arts center

Published 6:37 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Hogansville City Council unanimously voted Monday to renovate the Royal Theater for use as a theatre and community center.

Last month, the council had tabled the discussion until a later meeting, pushing the time Carter Watkins Associates had to meet its deadline with the Fox Theatre Institute.

The total cost of the theater plan was $58,250, but half of that is paid for by the Fox Theatre Institute. On Friday, the Fox Theatre Institute presented the city a $29,125 check to support the preservation of the theatre. Monday’s decision allows the architects to meet their deadline.

Hogansville City Hall currently operates under the Royal Theater, which was built in 1937.

“We have to give direction now to Carter Watkins, or we will not make the deadline for our grant from the Fox foundation,” Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz said. “You saw that check outside for $29,125 and if we don’t make the deadline that goes away, and that would have to be made up out of Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax funds.”

City Hall moved into the theater in 1984, but the building needs extensive repairs that will cost an estimated $1.8 million, regardless of whether it was used as city hall or a theater.

For instance, the Royal Theater is currently not complaint with the American Disabilities Act.

City manager David Milliron said Carter Watkins informed the city on March 19 that they needed direction.

“Ultimately this comes down to, does the council want them to finish up the master plan as a city hall or do they want to finish it out as a community center slash theatre?” Milliron said. “Either way this is a clear direction to them, it’s not a commitment to make it happen. It’s simply, they have to under contract, be able to finish it, whichever direction the council so desires.”

Milliron said going with the theatre and community center plan would allow staff to seek grants and funding to help with renovations.

“Under the city hall plan, I’ve researched everything I can,” Milliron said.

“Even with the FEMA money, bricks and mortar otherwise, there’s no way of winning a lottery ticket or taxing folks or something to get this building renovated as a city hall.”

In a previous city council meeting, Milliron said a land owner in the city agreed to purchase the empty PNC building and donate it to the city to use as city hall.  That was not mentioned during Monday’s meeting.