The Lynn Theatre is back on the market, nearly four months after the Gonzales City Council narrowly had voted to sell the historic movie theater to the partnership of Sydney Allen and Devon Warzecha.
Gonzales Economic Development Corporation president Ken Morrow confirmed Monday, May 15, that he had received a brief email from Christi Ortman Fullilove, who represents Allen and Warzecha, stating the couple no longer wished to purchase the theater building from the GEDC and the city.
Efforts behind the scenes to try to salvage the sale were unsuccessful, so the property, located at 510 Saint Paul St., is again available for purchase, Morrow told the Inquirer.
“We’re disappointed that Sydney Allen and Devon Warzecha did not complete the contract for whatever reasons they had,” Morrow said. “The property is now listed as active for sale by Lisa Grove with Phyllis Browning Co.”
Grove updated her listing online at 11 a.m. Monday to reflect the 11,684-square-foot building was back for sale with a listing price of $499,000. Any new offers to purchase the building must be made through Grove or Teresa Weirich as the listing agents for the city.
“The theater is currently vacant and awaiting its new owners to make this vintage gem shine again!” the website touts.
Morrow said any potential buyer of the Lynn could also apply for a possible forgivable Main Street grant of up to $50,000 for use in making the building operational as a theater. GEDC approved for fiscal year 2023 increasing its funding to Main Street from $150,000 to $250,000 for grants and “with try to carry that forward in subsequent years,” Morrow said.
“We had one recent grant recipient apply who agreed to provide four jobs for a period of four years. A theater alone would require at least four jobs to staff it,” Morrow said. “As a board, we are committed to making substantial improvements downtown. There are at least three people on the EDC board who all own buildings downtown and none of us have applied for these grants because we want everyone else to have a shot first and we are encouraging them to apply.”
Emails have been sent by the Inquirer to both Allen and Fullilove to provide an opportunity to discuss the reason the sale will not go through as planned.
Allen and Warzecha formed one of three consortiums that submitted proposals to purchase the theater in December 2022, along with a second group comprised of Doug and Dave Durham and Cathy Crowley, and a third involving Madelyn and Katie Abramite.
After hearing presentations from all three and going into executive session, the GEDC board would return and award the sale to Allen and Warzecha, claiming they had “the highest and best local offer that maintains the historical integrity of the building and will be used as an entertainment venue.”
One month later, in January 2023, the Gonzales City Council voted 3-2, with Mayor Steve Sucher serving as the tie-breaker vote, to sell the Lynn to Allen and Warzecha after Council members Ronda Miller and Joseph “Poochy” Kridler failed in an attempt to have the matter tabled to allow additional time to better study all of the proposals. Joining Sucher in voting to make the sale to Allen and Warzecha were Council members Sherri Koepp and Bobby O’Neal.
The motion to sell the theater to Allen and Warzecha — who also recently purchased the Running M restaurant — did include language that restricted the property to being an entertainment venue and a stipulation that the marquee had to be preserved. It also gave GEDC the option to repurchase the property in the event that Allen and Warzecha did not start construction within 24 months of acquiring the property.
Allen and Warzecha put up $1,000 in earnest money and a survey of the building was conducted as requested before the parties could execute the sales contract. However, that contract has not been signed.
About the Lynn
The Lynn Theatre was built in 1948 as a single-stage theater with floor and balcony seating. However, after many years, it was modified to now include two separate theaters, a ticket counter at the entry, a marquee, four exterior displays, a concession area, multiple bathrooms on each level, two screening rooms, private offices, along with backstage preparation and storage rooms.
The GEDC took back over the theater in 2020 after the previous operator defaulted on a performance agreement and it has sat vacant for three years.
However, the GEDC and community have invested more than an estimated $700,000 in the building, including having the entire building professionally cleaned; replacing the roof; working on signs, electrical, HVAC, plumbing and fire systems. That amount also includes utility bills, property insurance and pest control.
Both the GEDC and the city wish to see the property sold to a private entity in order to place it back on the tax rolls.
The listing for the Lynn can be seen at https://www.phyllisbrowning.com/listing/1620531/510-saint-paul-street-gonzales-tx-78629.