The Fuquay-Varina Town Board of Commissioners moved forward with plans Tuesday to buy and renovate the Stars Theater just a few weeks after their controversial decision to take over the struggling theater.
With little discussion, the board approved the initial financing of $1.3 million for the venue on East Vance Street in downtown and to start a master plan for the site.
The board also approved spending up to $36 million to expand the Terrible Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and about $6 million to fund a public service center that will house several town departments.
Earlier this month, the town board voted 3-2 to buy the Stars Theater & Arts Center, a 147-seat venue, for $575,000.
The plan came after the town decided not to proceed with a more expensive proposal to buy a downtown warehouse from businessman Bob Barker and transform it into an arts and conference center. The rejected plan, recommended by the town’s Cultural Arts Study Committee, would have cost $13 million with the town spending at least $5 million. The town had earmarked $5 million for an arts center in a long-term plan.
On Tuesday, the board voted 4-1 to establish a project fund and designate $1.3 million to buy the Stars Theater building and begin renovation design plans.
Commissioner William Harris voted against the motion, saying he couldn’t vote on funds for a project before seeing designs or ultimate costs.
Mark Matthews, assistant town manager, said the project is expected to cost $2.6 million, which would include $575,000 for the building and about $2 million for any professional services used to develop plans for the design and renovation construction.
The $1.3 million approved Tuesday is needed to complete the purchase and begin the design process, Matthews said. The town is at least six months away from construction work on the theater, giving it time to secure the remaining funds.
Fuquay-Varina bought the struggling theater with the intention of allowing independent contractors to come in and hold concerts, meetings and art classes.
Wastewater treatment plant
With the need to expand for future water capacity needs, the town board unanimously voted to approve up to $36 million in financing to expand the wastewater treatment plant.
The town is considering options to expand the Terrible Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant’s capacity from 1 million galllons a day to either 2 or 3 million gallons a day.
The 2-million gallon option would cost $26 million while the 3-million gallon option would cost $36 million. While the town hasn’t made a decision yet about the preferred option, the town staff recommended that the board adopt a resolution to proceed with the financing.
The board approved reimbursing itself from bond proceeds for the $36 million option and to begin footing the bills for current project-related expenses.
Matthews said the Local Government Commission gave preliminary approval to proceed with the financing for the expansion. It also recommended the town complete a feasibility and rate analysis study to receive final approval for financing authorization.
The town board is expected to discuss the expansion project details at its June 1 meeting.
Public Service Center
The town board also unanimously voted to begin seeking finances of about $6 million to fund a public service center on 16 acres off of Holland Road, east of Purfoy Road.
The board awarded the contract to Resolute Building Company in Chapel Hill, which presented the lowest bid of $5,980,850.
The center will house the operations of the Public Works, Public Utilities and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Maintenance departments.
With approval from the Local Government Commission, the town will pay the initial expenses of the project and reimburse itself once the commission officially approves funding in July.
In other business, the town board began discussing the possibility of a loading zone ordinance. The town now has nine loading zones with no time limits.
Because some of the loading zones are in prime parking spots, town staff recommended a time frame from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. for all loading zones. This would allow for more public parking in the evenings.
The town board voted to move the loading zone discussion to its next meeting.