“We are thankful for the confidence of our new partners in the financial viability of the Wayne Theatre and their willingness to invest in our community,” said Bill Hausrath, the chairman of the Wayne Theatre Alliance, which has led the 15-year effort to renovate the Downtown Waynesboro theatre landmark, which opened in 1926.
The WTA announced on Wednesday that it has secured the financial backing to begin work on the final phase of restoration work. The last piece in the puzzle was a partnership initiated by the Virginia Community Development Corporation that has the Alliance and U.S. Bancorp entering into an agreement to create a for-profit entity to draw upon tax credits available through the VCDC.
“U.S. Bank is excited to be part of the revitalization of downtown with the expansion and renovation of the Wayne Theatre,” said Laura Vowell, vice president of U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation. “We hope this project sparks a renaissance for the central business district and a new era of prosperity for the area.”
Mathers Construction Team will begin work on the final phase of restoration to the Wayne Theatre this month. The project will transform the building, which closed as a first-run movie theater in 1999, with the centerpiece being a 385-seat auditorium that will be an ideal space for music, dance, theatrical performances and large conferences and meetings.
The backspace will be home to the Custin Cabaret, a venue that will feature some performances from the programming schedule of the WTA’s Gateway Theatre. A second-floor lounge will be made available for the popular lecture series that was spawned at the Gateway.
The Wayne Theatre Alliance was founded in 2000 after an initiative that grew from a committee appointed by Waynesboro City Council to examine options for the reuse of the historic building. The journey has been met by various fits and starts over the past 15 years, but the Alliance persevered to see things through to Tuesday’s big announcement.
But as Hausrath noted on Wednesday, the hard work is really only just beginning.
“I and all those who served on the Wayne Theatre Alliance’s Board of Directors are grateful for the continuing support we have received as we worked our way to the final phase, and we ask that they continue with us as we add the final touches to the Wayne and make it the finest intimate performance space in Central Virginia,” Hausrath said.