V is for Keep Trying
Since this blog first reported on the closing of the Varsity Theater in 2003, curious residents and preservationists have wondered what was happening with efforts to "SAVE" the venerable venue. Those efforts will be recounted in my blook-in-blogress, but at this point all the actors have finished playing their roles, except for one -- Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole, who has a folder
on his desk, documenting his efforts to bring a developer with about $15 million to the old building on one of Illinois Avenue's most prime blocks. The reason developers aren't lining up for the opportunity is plain and simple -- Carbondale's small population and 18 mile distance from Interstate 57. What to do, what to do.
Since the owners won't sell the building for the purpose of showing first-run films, that rules out a competing theater chain as a buyer. Similarly, a group of art patrons and performers would like to SAVE it as a cultural center. But that won't happen, either: not as a stand-alone Arts Center -- not in that building -- not without a massive infusion of capital from a few dozen more Mr. X's" (remember him?).
Finding a viable buyer for the Varsity Theater (and finding funds to construct a Police & Safety Center on the old Lincoln Junior High School property) are at the top of Mayor Cole's list of "things to do" during his first term.
Meanwhile, my editor is ready the Varsity Theater chapter of my blook, and when it's done I'll post a link to it here V is for Varsity
Say What?It turns out that City Manager Jeff Doherty was on a trip last week with Mayor Brad Cole and some other community and university leaders to Carbondale's Sister City in Japan (which recently changed its name, did you know that, Bloggy? No more Nakajo! That city is now called Tainai -- though the City website does not reflect this change -- and the SIUC extension campus is now called SIUC-Niigata).
When he returned to the Capital of Southern Illinois, Mayor Cole was piqued that a reporter did not contact him about Doherty's alleged action before writing an editorial in the Southern Illinoisan. I say 'alleged' because the Mayor doubts that Doherty would -- or could -- tell the Daily Egyptian he would stop speaking to its reporters -- since he is an employee of the City -- and I have yet to ask the D'oh man to tell his version of what transpired. Let's see how the other media handle it.
No matter what, you can expect the CM to break his silence at next week's City Council meeting, if not before.