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DSI Comedy leaves Carrboro for Franklin Street

Zach Ward, owner of DSI Communication, shows off the new location of DSI on West Franklin Street.
Zach Ward, owner of DSI Communication, shows off the new location of DSI on West Franklin Street.

Although Dirty South Comedy Theater thought it was out of luck when its Carr Mill Mall lease was not renewed, leaving the Carrboro location may be a blessing in disguise.

DSI signed a lease with West End Properties on Friday at 1 p.m., only 24 hours after finding the space at 426 W. Franklin St.

DSI hosts stand-up, improvisational and sketch comedy performances. Workshops, classes and summer camps are also held for the community to participate in the comedy scene.

Zach Ward, owner and founder of DSI, said the owners of the Carr Mill Mall space chose not to renew DSI’s lease. He said neighboring restaurant Venable Rotisserie Bistro will expand into DSI’s old space.

“It was a surprise, but we took that and ran with it, and immediately started looking for spaces,” Ward said.

DSI was looking at having to close until the fall, but Ward said ultimately, the connection between Jared Resnick, a Franklin Street building owner, and the director at the chamber of commerce allowed Ward to sign a lease Friday.

“Looking for commercial real estate in a town like Chapel Hill is really difficult but also easy because there aren’t a lot of spaces available,” Ward said. “There were a really limited number of buildings with the square feet and the stage we needed, but we made it work.”

The best part of the new space is the increase in size, Ward said.

The new space, which is located next to Carolina Brewery, has triple the square footage as the current space at Carr Mill Mall. Along with 7,200 square feet of space, the new building has two stories, plus a basement, which the Carrboro location did not have.

“The expansion of classroom space will help local groups around the Chapel Hill area come together,” Ward said.

Ward also said being closer to UNC is an added benefit.

“We’ll be able to serve the student population a lot more here than we were in Carrboro,” he said. “I think we’ll see, not a changing demographic, but a growing demographic of people who come to the theater.”

Ashley Melzer, DSI’s associate artistic director, said the new space adds to what DSI had before and what it hopes to be in the future.

Melzer also said with the new space on Franklin Street, DSI is going to be forced to be more competitive.

“We are also going to have more visibility on the street, and in that way we are going to have to rise to the occasion,” she said.

Resnick, the owner of West End Properties and West End Wine Bar, said the location is going to be great for DSI.

“The comedy club does wonderful things but was always limited by their old space,” Resnick said. “Being on the west side of Franklin fits beautifully with the synergy on West Franklin Street.”

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