State Theatre up for auction again Jan. 23

Rappahannock County investors hope to recoup investment

It’s lights, camera, action, again, for the State Theatre foreclosure auction.

After an unsuccessful attempt on Oct. 20 to find a buyer for the vacant historic theatre, investors are attempting once again to find someone willing to purchase the renovated building Jan. 23.

This time, the auction will be held at 1 p.m. at the State Theatre.

According to a press release “the noteholder hopes this is Act II for this art deco treasure, listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.”

The auction will be handled by real estate auction firm Tranzon Fox. Bidders will be required to present a $50,000 deposit check and the suggested opening bid will be $500,000.

Culpeper Director of Tourism and Economic Development Paige Read has been working with the investor to help promote whatever business takes over the theatre.

“We will continue to work with the existing ownership and the new ownership wherever that may go,” Read said. “We are open to partnering with whatever new ownership that comes on board to help them with whatever their plans may be. I personally and my office are dedicated to helping them and making it a success.”

At the Oct. 20 auction, held outside the Culpeper County Courthouse, about 20 interested parties watched silently as no one stepped up to place a bid.

Built in 1934 and originally part of the Pitts chain of theaters across Western Virginia, the State Theatre had a renaissance in 2012 with a $13 million complete renovation and furnishings/systems upgrade.

According the to the press release, the possibilities are wide open for the future of the building.

“It’s anybody’s guess what will happen — perhaps an investor/developer will have a completely different idea in mind — brewery, spa/fitness center, condos/apartment, retail, boutique hotel. More details to follow after the holidays,” the release stated.

Whether the building will be bought for continuation as an entertainment venue remains to be seen, so the lighting, projection equipment, seats, concession and other fixtures and equipment will be offered for bids separately.

Tranzon Fox is a member company of Tranzon, LLC. Tranzon is one of the largest real estate auction companies in the country, with over 30 offices coast-to-coast. All Tranzon companies are independently owned and operated.

Investors from Rappahannock County, identified only as Melbell, LLC., and another unnamed couple have invested $5 million in the 500-seat theatre.

Until it closed Sept. 14, 2016, the theatre was led by a volunteer board of directors headed by Jerry Whitlock (chair), Joseph Wills (vice chair), Gary Lee (treasurer), Elizabeth Hutchins (secretary), Alex Forte, Chris Hamilton, Don Haight, Mike Hudson, Octavia Yates, and Joe Grills (board advisor).