Chapel Hill’s Varsity Theatre Task Force convened Monday for their final report, recommending Chapel Hill not to purchase and renovate the Varsity into a community arts center due to physical and financial obstacles.
Chapel Hill Town Council member Rachel Schaevitz said the task force, a group of Town staff and local downtown business owners, was established last October amid concerns the Varsity building would be sold for a non-arts related purpose. She said those fears have now subsided.
“It was that (the Varsity) and the other two businesses would be displaced and it might be replaced with something completely unrelated to the performing arts,” she said. “That’s where this started and then throughout the process we discovered a lot more — such as that the current owner is not in a rush to sell it, and even when he does sell it, he wants to see it retained as a performing arts venue.”
In October, the Town Council charged the task force with calculating acquisition cost estimates, programming ideas and the economic impact of a performing arts venue.
“Ultimately, what Council was looking at is how can we enhance the vitality of downtown, how can we attract more, because we want to then support the other businesses there, and that’s why we are looking at the Varsity Theatre,” said Jim Huegerich, a senior ombuds for the Town.