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State Theatre construction delays continue

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The State Theatre on Fifth Street remains under construction on Jan. 9, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Mackenzie Tewksbury
The Daily Reflector

Friday, January 11, 2019

Greenville residents eager to see the curtain rise on the city’s newest entertainment venue will have to wait a little longer.

The State Theatre has canceled its upcoming shows this weekend as construction delays continue to prevent the facility’s opening.

As part of the purchase contract, Clayton-based contract company CommunitySmith was to convert the structure into a live music and performance center on or before March 31, 2018. The contract included a 120-day grace period after March 31.

The deadline and grace period passed, but the building remained under construction.  

After months of delays, CommunitySmith announced in December the theatre would be ready by mid-January.

The electro-pop duo Cherub was scheduled to perform tonight and Badfish — A Tribute to Sublime with Ballyhoo and Little Stranger — was scheduled for Sunday. Both shows have been canceled. Tickets will be automatically refunded. Ticket holders also will be put on the guest list for the Badfish show, now at The Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, on Sunday. 

“We are sorry to cancel the show, we are very close to being finished, we just need a little more time,” the State Theatre wrote on its Facebook page.

“We hope to have Badfish rescheduled for Greenville later in 2019,” the page stated. “Thanks for supporting live music, we appreciate your patience and look forward to seeing you real soon.”

Superintendent of the project Chad Phillips said he hopes to finish construction by the end of the weekend.

The theatre had a hiring fair on Monday, looking for bar staff, production staff, security and more. The theatre's next show, “The Breakfast Club,” a 1980s tribute band, is scheduled for Jan. 18. 

CommunitySmith, which specializes in revitalization projects statewide and worked on two other successful redevelopments on Fifth Street and Dickinson Avenue, purchased the the 104-year old building, located at 110 W. Fifth St., from the city in September 2016 for $20,000.

The company has been fined $100 a day since early August for failing to meet its renovation deadline. City spokesman Brock Letchworth said the group has been billed $16,500. The fine has not yet been paid, but the money will go to the city's general fund when collected. 

CommunitySmith has not yet obtained a certificate of occupancy, according to Letchworth.

The theater opened in 1914, closed in the late 1990s then fell into disrepair. The city Redevelopment Commission purchased the property in 2008 for about $281,000 with general obligation bond funds designated for downtown redevelopment.

The city used about $175,000 in Brownfield grant funds and another $165,000 in bond funds for environmental cleanup and structural stabilization work — which included replacing deteriorated roof beams — and to redesign the city-owned Washington Street parking lot to accommodate tour buses and delivery trucks for the theater and surrounding merchants.

After CommunitySmith took possession, crews continued stabilizing the building and removing the structure that housed the theater’s fly system — used to hoist backdrops for stage plays. Officials said it was removed for structural stability and environmental reasons.

The rear of theater was expanded for show space and dressing rooms. The theater will feature a multi-level design with a full bar with and flexible seating on the main level to allowing for a variety of configurations to meet the needs of different events. Additionally there will be a large mezzanine floor.

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