Plans to transform the former Stars Theater into a town cultural center are moving forward in Fuquay-Varina.
The town bought the theater in May in what some considered a controversial move, passing up an offer from local businessman Bob Barker to turn one of his warehouses into a massive arts and convention center. Barker’s project would have cost several million dollars. But the town instead elected to spend $575,000 buying the existing Stars Theater on East Vance Street.
Officials plan to spend several million more over the coming months, and possibly years, to renovate the downtown theater into the Fuquay-Varina Arts Center. That process kicked off Nov. 17, when the town commissioners hired an architecture firm to begin designing the new layout.
The current two-story space has a 147-seat theater, several classrooms, a large open meeting space and more. It’s unclear what changes the future may hold for the space. It’s currently closed, although people can still use the now-public parking lot when traveling downtown to go shopping.
The town awarded Szostak Design a $250,000 contract for the design work. Officials expect to have the design ready to unveil to the public in 2016.
The Chapel Hill-based company’s portfolio includes the Durham Performing Arts Center and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, among other projects. Many of Szostak Design’s projects have won design awards.
The current building is heavy looking, rectangular, gray brick and about a century old. Szostak Design’s past projects, on the other hand, show the company emphasizes the use of glass, metal and angles – a much more modern look.
Fuquay-Varina is still looking for a new town employee to operate the theater and direct the town’s arts and culture offerings. That position is open to applicants until Dec. 14. More details can be found at www.fuquay-varina.org.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran