Plans for Arts District Stage Come Up Short

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(Ian Brickey/WYDaily)
(Ian Brickey/WYDaily)

A proposal to invest in an events stage in the City of Williamsburg’s Arts District has been put on hold.

The Williamsburg Economic Development Authority has no immediate plans to build a permanent stage or purchase a portable stage for the Arts District after James City County backed out of discussions to jointly invest in one.

“[James City County] focusing on building a permanent stage,” Williamsburg Director of Economic Development Michele DeWitt said at the EDA’s June meeting. “It’ll be exciting for the region if they can pull it off.”

DeWitt did not rule out the possibility of the city eventually purchasing a stage of some kind, but EDA members were not enthusiastic about the cost, which could approach $70,000.

“I’d want to see a strong case for it,” EDA member Adam Steely said.

EDA Chairman Tom Gillman said the $70,000 stage was a “more extravagant” version than others the EDA had examined in its consideration of the proposal. DeWitt added that design had been promoted by the county.

The EDA originally considered a proposal put forth in December by WADA to construct a permanent events stage at 906 Richmond Road between Wells Fargo and Days Inn, at the former site of the Tioga Motel.

That plan called for a 16-by-24 foot wooden structure with power and a roof to be built, transforming the vacant, city-owned property into a temporary arts venue. WADA estimated the cost of the project at $12,000 without landscaping.

Hesitant to pursue a permanent stage on its own, the EDA considered investing in a movable structure to be purchased jointly with James City County. The county has declined to join the effort.

Since December, DeWitt said the Arts District Association appeared to have lost interest in pursuing the project.

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