The owner of the Farr Best Theater said he will not sell the theater to the city of Mansfield despite signing a contract.
Charles Morales said his daughters and grandchildren pleaded with him to keep the 99-year-old landmark in the family.
“I originally agreed, yes, but since then I have changed my mind,” Morales said Monday afternoon. “It’s kind of like I’m selling part of the family.”
On Monday night, the Mansfield City Council voted 6-0 to buy the theater for $450,000 plus closing costs. Councilman Stephen Lindsey abstained from the vote.
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The council also approved $28,426 for new carpet, paint and audio/visual equipment. The theater’s roof would also be replaced at a cost of $30,305. The purchase and repairs would be funded by Mansfield’s hotel occupancy tax.
But Morales, who has had a tumultuous relationship with the city for more than a decade, said the deal is off.
“I might do it a little later but not right now,” he said.
Shelly Lanners, deputy city manager, told the council that the city has a signed contract with Morales to sell the building.
After the meeting, Lanners said Morales hasn’t told the city that he doesn’t plan to sell. Now that the council has approved the contract, the city will close on the sale, Lanners said.
Morales purchased the theater for $25,000 in 2004, but has spent money repairing the theater. He signed a lease with the city earlier this year that included two months of free rent. He estimates that he’s invested $300,000 to $400,000 in the theater in the past 12 years.
After the free rent ended in May, Mansfield started paying $1,000 a month in rent. With the start of the 2017 fiscal year in October, the rent went up to $1,500 a month.
The Mansfield Commission for the Arts has started hosting events at the theater again, such as the recent Third Thursday ghost tour.
By buying the theater, Mansfield would be able to make necessary upgrades.
“The [Convention and Visitors Bureau] is excited to be a part of the transformation that is happening in historic downtown Mansfield and the opportunity to bring a variety of events into the Farr Best Theater,” said Theresa Cohagen, the city’s tourism manager.
Diamond Hills project remains tabled
The controversial Diamond Hills project will remain tabled by the council despite the developer’s request to withdraw it. Residents in northwest Mansfield opposed the proposal for 480 homes on 187 acres off Gertie Barrett Road. They feared the project would increase traffic, cause overcrowding in the schools and destroy many mature trees. The council tabled the development last month after dozens of complaints.
Alluvium Development wants to retool the project with larger lots that will better fit the area.
“In an effort to work with the citizens and the wishes of the City Council, we are re-working the subdivision to a more rural feel with bigger lots with bar ditches,” Terry Job, president of Alluvium Development, said in an email.
Council members decided not to withdraw the project but are hopeful that it will return as a planned development.
Max price set for StarCenter
The city’s price tag for the construction of the Dr Pepper StarCenter will not exceed $13.1 million. The council set the guaranteed maximum price for the ice rink and hired Pete Durant and Associates as the construction manager at risk for the project.
Pete Durant & Associates will cover the costs if they exceed the city’s maximum price.
The StarCenter is scheduled to open in September at the northeast corner of East Broad Street and U.S. 287. It’s part of the larger mixed-use Shops at Broad project that will include shops, restaurants and 330 apartments.
The apartments in particular have sparked opposition to the project, prompting Mansfield residents to collect signatures for a petition to put the zoning change on the ballot. Their goal is to get it on the May ballot so voters can decide its fate.
Organizers for the petition say they have 600 signatures, about 200 more than required, and they expect to turn the petition in Friday afternoon.