Culpeper State Theatre sells at auction

Marcus Silva, President of Villagio Hospitality Group, signs the paperwork for the State Theatre after placing a winning bid of $660,000. Final cost of the sale was $726,000. Ian Chini for the Culpeper Times

The State Theatre sold Tuesday afternoon with a $660,000 bid from an investor from Prince William County.

Marcus Silva, President of Villagio Hospitality Group, placed a bid of $660,000 and waited out a few tense moments before signing paperwork to transfer ownership of the State Theatre to his group.

The final sale price was $726,000, following a 10 percent fee added onto the sale.

It was a quick transaction for Silva and Villagio, which just became interested in the facility six days ago.

“We’ve been looking for another opportunity and this just happened quick,” Silva said.

Villagio, which owns several Northern Virginia businesses including Farm Brew Live, Trattoria Villagio, Little Villagio, The Black Sheep and Two Silos Brewing, plan to use the State Theatre as an entertainment venue, but Silva said it was too early to share their full vision.

“It’s too soon to comment,” Silva said. “Our background is in preserving national treasures like this, we’ve done this a couple of times in the past with good success.”

Silva said they have no intention of changing the looks of the outside of the theatre but that the equipment inside – already up for auction – will remain on the auction block.

“We don’t have intention of changing the outside,” Silva said.

“That’s more for theatrics and that’s most likely not our plan going forward,” he said.

Farm Brew Live at Innovation Park, a nine acre campus located in Manassas, houses a venue for live music, a brewery and restaurants.

Opened last fall, the venue has been a hit with the Northern Virginia public and Silva said providing that type of experience is what the organization strives to do.

“I think this is beyond just the building, people are looking for unique concepts and experiences,” Silva said. “Your franchises, your chains are kind of outdated now. This is about working with the community, with the town in preserving this building and creating an awesome experience for people up here.”

The auction, handled by Tranzon Fox, required a $50,000 deposit check and an opening bid of $400,000.

The bidding started at $1 million before the auctioneer gradually lowered the number to $400,000, when bidding began. Approximately four people made bids, from a crowd of more than 50 people huddled in the front of the now vacant theatre.

This was the second auction held for the theatre, with no bids being recorded at a public auction outside the Culpeper County Courthouse Oct. 20.

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.

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).