Brookland Park theater building sells to local developer

An interior shot of the theater taken several years ago. (Courtesy Cory Weiner)

Less than a year after rallying the city to take action on the property, a Richmond developer already active along Brookland Park Boulevard has added the corridor’s dormant theater building to his holdings in the neighborhood.

Cory Weiner’s CW Performance Group purchased the former Brookland Theatre building at 115 W. Brookland Park Blvd. for $175,000 late last month. The 6,300-square-foot building, which back to the mid-1920s, had been listed since April, most recently with an asking price of $299,000.

The former Brookland Theatre building at 115 W. Brookland Park Blvd. (BizSense file photo)

The building was purchased from Hampton Nash LLC, a Richmond-based development group that paid $106,000 for it in 2016. The transaction closed Oct. 28, with Porter Realty’s Wilson Flohr representing the seller.

The latest city assessment valued the 0.13-acre property at $122,000.

Weiner, whose real estate portfolio along Brookland Park Boulevard is now the largest in the corridor, said he does not yet know how he will redevelop the theater building, which he plans to refresh in the meantime with façade and exterior lighting improvements.

Cory Weiner (BizSense file photo)

“The interior of the building needs extensive work,” Weiner said Monday. “There are many options on the table, but whichever route this goes, it will be a huge improvement to the neighborhood and can only enhance everything I and others are working on in Brookland Park.”

Weiner said he would like to restore the building to its original use as a theater, through a rehab involving historic preservation tax credits. Built in 1925, the nearly century-old building showed movies for several decades before closing.

The theater building dates back to the mid-1920s. (Courtesy Cory Weiner)

Other options include splitting it into an event space or music hall with a restaurant, or a mixed-use building with apartments above commercial storefronts, said Weiner, who’s working with Elliot Warsof with S.L. Nusbaum Realty Co. on leasing inquiries.

Bank building in limbo

The theater building is one of two that Weiner and other property owners along Brookland Park Boulevard described as holding back the corridor’s potential when they rallied city officials for action earlier this year.

The other property – the former American National Bank Building at 201 W. Brookland Park Blvd. – had likewise remained unimproved since it was purchased in 2015 by another firm, Dixon/Lee Development Group. In that case, the transaction involved a performance agreement and $200,000 in grant funds from the city, which sued the firm for repayment in April.

City property records show Dixon/Lee retains ownership of the bank building, which the firm had planned to redevelop as a business incubator for first-time entrepreneurs.

The former American National Bank building. (BizSense file photo)

Principal LaMar Dixon on Monday said he is working to resolve the grant repayment with the city, and has met with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which owned the building previously, on what might be possible for the property.

The city’s lawsuit against Dixon/Lee remained active as of Monday. City officials were unavailable for comment Monday, as City Hall was closed for Veterans Day.

“We’re trying to resolve the issue with the $200,000 grant with the city,” Dixon said, adding that he couldn’t speak more on that at this time. “We met with RRHA about what our next steps are. We have entertained offers on the property, but we can’t do anything until we get agreement.

“We have some investors that, if we can clear up what the issues are and what we can and can’t do, we could move forward with a different type of project that would benefit the neighborhood,” he said.

The old bank building at 201 W. Brookland Park Blvd., with the Brookland Theatre building visible in the background. (BizSense file photo)

As that process plays out, Weiner said the theater building’s face-lift and eventual revival will be a benefit to the corridor, which continues to get additional investment. Most recently, the former gas station at 205 W. Brookland Park Blvd. – right beside the bank building – was purchased and is planned to be turned into an art gallery.

Weiner also cited a recent state funding award for the city’s public works department to move forward with streetscape improvements that have been in the works for years. The project would install bump-outs at the boulevard’s intersections with Hanes, Garland and North avenues with plantings, benches and bike racks, he said.

Weiner also noted new businesses that have opened in the past two years and more to do so in coming weeks, including Ninja Kombucha, The Big Kandied Apple and Ms. Bees Juice Bar.

“Overall, Brookland Park Boulevard is headed in the right direction, and this renovation will keep the progress moving full steam ahead,” he said.

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Bruce Milam
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Bruce Milam

back about 2010, when Dave Brockie was still alive, I showed the Theatre to GWAR, who envisioned it as both a showcase and room to produce their costumes. Maybe even the Gwar Bar Restaurant before they chose Jackson Ward. Unfortunately, earlier that day there had been a drive by murder about one block away and it scared the guys off. They chose well for their timing. The area has turned for the better. Sara Marie Williams has kept the faith that Brookland would be the next Church Hill and perhaps her vision is being realized, finally. The economy has been… Read more »

charles Frankenhoff
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charles Frankenhoff

sounds great. Now if only they can resolve the Dixon/Lee boondoggle

Peter Walls
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Congrats Cory! Doing well for the neighborhood & your family!

Randall Hudgins
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Randall Hudgins

Tell if I’m wrong about any of this–first, using historic tax credits means they have to renovate this space back into a functioning theatre, effectively, is this right? Next, to operate a theatre within city limits you would need a whole lot of parking or some kind of waiver. Isn’t this how the city works? You renovate it back to what it was that the neighborhood can no longer support using tax credits, and then are unable to operate a successful modern reuse business such as a cafe mixed with apartments and shared office space for example, or am I… Read more »

Sean Stilwell
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Sean Stilwell

No it does not need to be a theater to qualify for historic tax credits.

David Humphrey
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David Humphrey

Only federal historic tax credits require it to be an “income producing property” or in other words not be sold for condos. But that means it can a theatre, a market, apartments, whatever that produces income. Additionally it only has to have that status for 5 years, which is the length of time the tax credits are paid out over. So, if someone holds it as apartments for five years they can then flip them as condos after the five years. Along with the state historic tax credits there are other qualifiers about exactly what expenses can be counted towards… Read more »

Mo Karn-Bruce
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Depending on the tax credit application and DHR, it does not have to be used for the same purpose. Layout changes would have to be justified and approved, but there are many creative ways to use historic tax credits on these historic buildings without being held to the same use. DHR is going to be more concerned with exterior aspects remaining true to historic layout, and then the preservation of specific architectural features. Wish I could be a part of this project it sounds very cool!