Thursday, May 7, 2015

Theater Update Brook Run

For those of you not in the know, this blog is part satire and parody, and part unofficial news, and once in a while, real news.  When it comes to school stuff, we keep it serious, most of the time.

When discussing local businesses we keep it light and respectful, promoting local restaurants.  We've promoted Mellow Mushroom (Hoegaarden on draft and fresh hot pizza) for years.  We plug Marlow's, The Tavern, Cafe at Pharr, and more.  

For politics and city issues, we're all over the place.  

Yesterday we posted a piece about the CVB, and well, a few people didn't like it.  Many did.  

Here's the story:

There's a building in Brook Run Park that used to be a theater.  The theater went dark 15 years ago.  Dunwoody has grown and thousands of people have moved here, even though this building was left to decay.  The lack of a theater has not hurt Dunwoody one bit.  Homes are selling, businesses are opening, and we have sidewalks and freshly paved roads.

Although we lack a real theater (no offense to SDP, but we mean real as in a dedicated theater), we also lack usable green-space parks.  Dunwoody has zero soccer fields, zero lacrosse fields, and of course no softball fields.  We do have two baseball fields, used exclusively for Dunwoody Metro Atlanta Senior Baseball. If you want to reserve those fields, don't call the city.  Dunwoody Sr. Baseball officials handle the bookings.  Good luck with that. 

But let's get back on task - the CVB and the abandoned building in Brook Run. 

Brook Run Park was granted to DeKalb County over a decade ago, with some restrictions.  Seventy percent (70%) of the park must remain as urban green-space.  An asphalt parking lot is not green-space.  A concrete sidewalk (or trail) is not green-space, and a brick building is not green-space.  A concrete skate park is not green-space.  The skate park, roads, sidewalks, parking lots, existing buildings, and the trail consume much of the allowable 30% non green-space. If you knock down a couple more buildings, you have more space available for green-space.

The big battle here is if Brook Run becomes a park like Murphy Candler, Hammond Road park, and Morgan Falls,  or remains mostly dormant and unused.  It's a task the mayor and city council will handle in 2016 when the Master Parks Plan is revisited. 

There is a small group (DT staff says 50, but the group probably claims thousands) that wants the theater preserved, rebuilt, and used again.  If Dunwoody had the same money and space and existing park assets as Sandy Springs, and there was no deed restriction at Brook Run, I'd be 100% in favor of a theater remake.  But we don't have parks like Sandy Springs, and we certainly don't have the annual income of Sandy Springs (their annual budget is 5X ours but only double the population). In summary, Dunwoody has to prioritize its needs and wants.

So this group of Dunwoody residents wants to save the theater.  Please note there is not a majority of votes on council to rebuild the theater.  I think the issue has one, two at most, votes on city council.  Put to a vote today, it fails 6-1. To end this entire issue, someone on council should put an RFP to demo the theater building on the next meeting agenda.  Knock it down and move on.  Put a lacrosse field in its place and don't look back.

So, back to the CVB, we promise. 

The SaveTheTheater group wants to spend other people's money on a study on the costs to save the theater.  Our city council said no to funding the study (an obvious hint that there is no support for a theater in Brook Run).  The SaveTheTheater group solicited the Dunwoody CVB for money.  According to a CVB board member, the CVB "did agree to partially fund a research study to determine the feasibility of this theatre (sic) as it relates to the CVB’s ability to successfully promote this attraction outside of the area".  However, according to the member, "And finally, while we have committed to this financial participation, no payments have yet been made as we are awaiting clarification on a few items."  Clarification?  Why hand over $5,000 if things weren't clear? 

In the opinion of the DunwoodyTalk staff, the abandoned building in Brook Run is NOT an issue the Dunwoody CVB should address.

After posting the original CVB Theater blog post, we received the following comment:
The comment and our response:

As xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and xxx of the CVB, I would ask you to report the facts and not fiction relative to the CVB’s involvement with the theatre at Brook Run Park.

DT: Fiction?  You confirmed the Board voted to fund the SaveTheTheater posse.

I understand that your comments are simply your opinion but if you choose to quote someone, please quote a real person and not the two fictitious persons (Kimmie Knight and Kathryn Drawicle) with fictitious quotes.

DT: Sounds like a good idea.  Thanks for providing us with direct quotes.  But please note that we don't always put the names of folks out there.  We felt no need to include real names here, even though our original post in on the first second page of a Google search.  If the CVB folks want us to use their real names we can edit the post.  Have them contact us.

The CVB serves an extremely important role in bringing tax dollars to Dunwoody so you as a resident can benefit from this source of revenue.

DT:  Partially accurate.  It's hotel guests bringing tax dollars to Dunwoody, not the CVB.  The CVB, via the hotels, serves as our tax collector.   Yes, we do benefit.  Looks like the city brought in $800,000 or so in hotel taxes in 2014, maybe 3% of the budget?  The CVB share of the take is a million or so? I hope you don't think the CVB is responsible for bringing in the revenue.  It's the marketing efforts of your hotel staff and the other hotels that do most of the leg work.  Our city's location sure helps.  If the CVB disappeared I doubt your vacancy rates would change much, if it all.  But I'm not in favor of ridding ourselves of the CVB because then DeKalb CVB would take over.

As Board members, we volunteer our time to help the CVB team in their efforts to promote Dunwoody.

DT:  Thanks for volunteering! I've done a little of that here as well.  Feels good to help others.   Here's a link to volunteer outside of the hotel industry. 

To this end, your false reporting of the facts combined with the denigration of the new CVB logo is insulting to me as both xxxx and a hospitality business leader in the community.

DT: Nothing false was reported.  A little satire, yes.  But the fact is your Board voted to give away $5,000 after a guy showed up and asked for it.  I suggest you go back and read some other blog posts from the past five years.  Lots of good stuff.  Here's one of my favorites.  RecycleRedShirts. We Luv Vandy and VB. Gangs.

DT: Denigration of the logo?  LOL. Don't blame me on that one - blame the ad firm that designed it.  We at DT had no involvement with Smart City, the * debacle, or the new dippin dot CVB logo. You need to take ownership for that piece of work.  Dunwoody is full of creative people.  You and the city both should have opened up the logo designs to all residents as a contest.  Lots of high schoolers and college kids would have loved to participate. And besides, adding 'dance, drama, and display' is a nice touch. 

To set the record straight, the Board did agree to partially fund a research study to determine the feasibility of this theatre as it relates to the CVB’s ability to successfully promote this attraction outside of the area. 

DT: So, we did not report false information?  An attraction?  it's an empty building with asbestos and a decent piece of stained glass. One of the finest theater organizations Atlanta has ever seen, the Georgia Shakespeare, folded in 2014.   The theater business is tough.  Not something a small city or CVB needs to invest in.

As always, the goal of the CVB is to sell rooms. The question then becomes, would the theartre help the CVB sell more hotel rooms in Dunwoody? Without proper research, I certainly cannot answer that question. 

DT:  I'll help you with that question.  No, a theater in Brook Run will not result in a single hotel room booking - ever.

Perhaps the venue will not attract outsiders to our hotels for plays but perhaps the venue can be used as convention space which would then greatly impact our hotels. Is that a possibility….maybe.

DT: Finally, something that is worthy of discussion.  Yes, convention space is #1 to filling your rooms.  We agree.  But a room to hold 20 or 30 people is not your answer.  Those folks over at Spruill sold out to Big Biz, too bad.  That site was perfect for a convention center.  I suggest the CVB staff go to the GWCC web site calendar for a couple hours a day. Not even Mr. Walt Disney himself could make today's Dunwoody a weekend getaway.  Move on.  The CVB needs to find out what's going on around metro Atlanta, then solicit those groups.  MARTA goes to the GWCC so focus all efforts in that direction.  On the GWCC web site there is a link for convention attendees.  it says: "Where to Stay".  It points to Dunwoody is NOT listed.  Send them the $5,000 and get listed there. 

 A research study would help us in answering this question. 

DT: Your researcher will tell you what you want to hear, nothing less.  Especially when you hand pick the 'researcher'.  

And finally, while we have committed to this financial participation, no payments have yet been made as we are awaiting clarification on a few items.

DT: Thanks for visiting DunwoodyTalk, a Top 10 Dunwoody blog.

Nova Cucina Open in Dunwoody

The wait was worth it, Nova is open in Dunwoody.  It's a soft opening, as is normal in the industry, so be patient.  The menu has many pizza offerings, antipasta, salads, grilled entree salads, and more.

The inside is beautiful and high-tech.  Nova is located on Dunwoody's Main Street, in the Publix shopping center.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Dunwoody CVB Grant Program Open to All Dreamers

Ever have an idea for something, but you didn't have the money or own the property?  Or, maybe you want to start a new program that Dunwoody doesn't offer (but Sandy Springs or Brookhaven does)?  Well, sharpen your pencil and send your grant proposal to the Dunwoody CVB.  They have money for the taking!

"We want to put heads in beds, and nothing does that more than a local theater," exclaimed Kimmie Knight, CVB's Director of Operations.  "We envision buses from as far away as Social Circle, GA coming here to our local Grange hall.  Those folks will need a place to put their head down after an evening of Moe's burritos and Sylvia (a modern romantic comedy)."

The CVB recently awarded $5,000  (confiscated from hotel guests, not money from us Dunwoodians) to fund a feasibility study for saving rebuilding  remodeling the theater in Brook Run Park.  "Our mission statement is to generate economic development for Dunwoody, and as they say, you can't make money without spending money!" laughed Kathryn Drawicle, the CVB's marketing guru. "Our Board of Directors really has a pulse on the community.  A new theater almost cracked the Top 50 list on the city's parks survey a couple years ago."

Those interested in handouts grants are encouraged to contact the Dunwoody CVB.  The CVB will cut short their "Girls Day Out at Harbor Freight" program to fund the grants.  According to the CVB's press release, they are keen on seeing proposals for a second theater (because two is always better than one), an art gallery featuring Tweets and SnapChats from Dunwoody High students, a bingo hall, and anything catering to those aged 65 and older.  Applicants are discouraged from submitting anything to do with sports fields, courts used for sports, and other sports/active adult resources.  In conjunction with city leaders, the CVB will favor amenities that serve metro Atlanta residents (think regional dog park, regional skate park, regional tree swinging attraction, regional theater, regional baseball league, etc.), not specifically those of us paying taxes and residing in Dunwoody.To get on the agenda of the CVB, simply send them an email.  It's that easy.

The Staged Gate Playas, a local theatrical group, would be the biggest beneficiary of a new theater.  "We are hoping a new theater would help lower our costs, even though the theater proponents claim the a new venue will generate lots of revenue.  We are paying the City of Dunwoody $1,600 a month for over 5,000 square feet, so this new Brook Run place better match these rates," stated Henrik Ibsen, a theater representative.  

Another group looking to benefit from a new theater is DaMan Dance & Disco Company.  "Nothing brings in a crowd like our 7-8 year-olds Beginner I-II ballet class," boasted Dan DaMan, managing director.  "You want heads in beds?  Wait until you see the crop of kids in our pre-ballet and pre-tap classes! I promise, they will dance circles around those wannabes from Brookhaven and Sandy Springs."