Miller Theater to be sold

  • Follow Metro

Peter Knox, the owner of the historic Miller Theater on Broad Street, said he plans to put the theater on the market on Friday.

Owner Peter Knox says the historic Miller Theater on Broad Street will be up for sale beginning Friday. The building, which dates to 1939, is in need of millions of dollars in repairs to bring it up to code, function and aesthetic appeal.   Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Owner Peter Knox says the historic Miller Theater on Broad Street will be up for sale beginning Friday. The building, which dates to 1939, is in need of millions of dollars in repairs to bring it up to code, function and aesthetic appeal.

Knox purchased the dilapidated theater several years ago and offered it as a gift to Symphony Orchestra Augusta in 2005. The symphony has yet to accept it.

"It's just a gift, I wasn't receiving anything for it," Knox said. "It does need millions of dollars' worth of repair. So, it's not really free for them, but I did the dirty work of stopping the bloody leaks in the roof."

During Historic Augusta's Loft Tour in May, tour guide Michael Deas of Augusta Amusements, said Knox spent $500,000 to buy the building and repair the roof -- the same amount Frank Miller spent to build it in 1939.

Knox said he has paid monthly electric bills of several hundred dollars and insurance and property taxes on the building since 2005 while the symphony's board of directors hired professionals to conduct fact-finding research and analysis.

"The professional analysis I paid for wasn't good enough for them, I guess," Knox said. "Basically, I'm just tired of fooling with it."

Knox said he was hoping the project would go more like the Jessye Norman School of the Arts at Eighth and Greene streets, which "didn't dither" when offered the piece of property, but "simply realized the chance they had been given and ... committed themselves to make it happen."

In a statement, Symphony Orchestra Augusta said because the theater project is so massive, it has taken time to study whether restoration and conversion into a performing arts hall is possible and could be sustained. Through a donation from a symphony board member, four primary consultants have been hired the past two years. The symphony estimates up front cost of the project is roughly $20 million.

The symphony will continue its studies, even if the property goes on the market.

"The SOA Board is committed to this process and will be in a position to vote on the project this fall," the symphony said in an e-mailed statement. "Peter Knox's patience with the SOA has been extraordinary and continues to be appreciated ... We will continue to keep Mr. Knox apprised of the status of the project."

But Knox said time is up.

He said a buyer made an offer in 2008, but his mother pleaded with him to give the symphony one more chance. Because the theater has been off the market so long, he hasn't heard of any interested buyers recently. He did, however, say he would consider "option two," which is to make Deas an offer similar to the one he made the symphony.

"Deas has been one of the most enthusiastic volunteers since this started," Knox said. "He even created another nonprofit group online through which the Miller could be donated to instead of the symphony."

Deas said the group, Augusta Landmarks, is not able to receive donations through the Web site, but it is there to create interest in the building's restoration.

"I refer to Peter Knox as Augusta's hero because he single-handedly saved the Miller Theater from being destroyed," Deas said. "I hope this whole community will get together and make an effort to get it restored."

Renovations on the Miller by the symphony were included in a special purpose local option sales tax package approved by voters in June 2009. The symphony was to receive $5.1 million on the condition that it raised an additional $1.2 million.

Tim Schroer, the assistant finance director for city, said if the symphony does not receive the building and meet the conditions, the $5.1 million will be "redirected within the category of parks-recreation-culture-library-facilities."

Comments (64) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/29/11 - 02:21 pm
0
0
so what's going to happen to

so what's going to happen to the millions of SPLOST dollars that were appropriated to The Symphony to renovate The Miller to become a "Symphony Hall"? Watch out folks, I bet Deke is planning right now to redirect that money to a ballpark.

floridasun
310
Points
floridasun 06/29/11 - 02:23 pm
0
0
I hope the Miller Theater can

I hope the Miller Theater can be restored to a useful life. It is a Augusta treasure

corgimom
33163
Points
corgimom 06/29/11 - 02:26 pm
0
0
He couldn't find a buyer

He couldn't find a buyer before, he won't find one now. He'll have to donate it to someone who has millions of dollars to spend on that dilapidated old wreck.

Too bad it was allowed to fall into such disrepair.

Sweet son
10554
Points
Sweet son 06/29/11 - 02:26 pm
0
0
Mr. Knox you should contact

Mr. Knox you should contact Dr. Greenbaum and his associates to see if they want to make the purchase. They really want and need a good symphony and other cultural events.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/29/11 - 02:31 pm
0
0
corgimom,, didn't The

corgimom,, didn't The Symphony get over $6 million in SPLOST dollars to renovate it? And wasn't Knox offering it to them as a gift? So what has happened? It sounded like this was all worked out and why it was put on SPLOST. Why do these things get put on SPLOST when apparently there is no concrete deal in writing from the beginning. Now there may be a $6 million slushfund for the city to dole out. I bet Deke is eyeing that money now. BUT if voters appropriated this money specifically for restoration of The Miller, then that's what it should go for or it should go back to the people

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/29/11 - 02:34 pm
0
0
Personally, I would rather

Personally, I would rather have a restored Miller Theater than another ballpark

ECDanes
1
Points
ECDanes 06/29/11 - 02:54 pm
0
0
Oooooh. The plot thickens. So

Oooooh. The plot thickens. So you are saying millions of dollars in previous SPLOST funds could be "up for grabs?" Will The Symphony get The shaft for a new ballpark? Inquiring minds want to know.

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 06/29/11 - 03:01 pm
0
0
splost. slush payments
Unpublished

splost. slush payments levied outta suckered taxpayers.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 06/29/11 - 03:19 pm
0
0
I cant do better than that

I cant do better than that one, broad. Ha!

Hey, there was one group against things like this going into the SPLOST. I think it was those know nothing Libertarians...

corgimom
33163
Points
corgimom 06/29/11 - 03:22 pm
0
0
Yes, Emerydan, you are

Yes, Emerydan, you are correct, this stinks to high heaven.

That would be a great story- just what did/will happen to those SPLOST dollars?

"Knox said he has been paying monthly electric bills of several hundred dollars and insurance and property taxes on the building since 2005 while the Symphony of Augusta Board of Directors hired professionals to conduct fact-finding research and analysis."

Hey, if they haven't done it in 6 years, they aren't going to. Face facts, let's move on. The research and analysis obviously proved that accepting it would be a really bad deal.

How many more millions upon millions upon millions are going to be poured into "downtown revitalization" when the population center keeps shifting west?

Greenville is held up as an example. It is very easy to get to Downtown Greenville. They also have pedestrian malls; none of the "old guard" business owners is going to agree to that.

It is not nearly as easy to get to downtown Augusta, and that is one huge reason why revitalization hasn't worked, isn't working, and won't work.

Then you have the new courthouse built 7 very long blocks away from the riverfront. If it had been built closer- get rid of some of those old buildings on Broad St- it could've been great.

Oh wait, I see another trolley study coming.

dougk
3
Points
dougk 06/29/11 - 03:36 pm
0
0
Good one, broad street.
Unpublished

Good one, broad street. Trolley or canal or baseball park??

coco rubio
53
Points
coco rubio 06/29/11 - 03:36 pm
0
0
let's fix it up like the

let's fix it up like the Georgia Theatre in athens.....

countyman
20236
Points
countyman 06/29/11 - 04:13 pm
0
0
This whole time I thought

This whole time I thought tourist would rather visit the downtown area instead of the suburban areas.. Somebody better tell the developers behind the Whites Building (remaining 34 condos under construction), Sprint Food & Metro Market(what's left of the former Belk building) both are Broad street.

Along with the developer behind the Lofts at Marbury the population is moving west.. Phase 1 calls for one 42-unit loft building... Phase 2 consists of two 5 unit townhome buildings.... The two 5 unit townhome buildings are 3 stories tall..

The Emporium(9 apartments/2 retail spaces) opened earler this year on Broad street.

Tim Rausch
8
Points
Tim Rausch 06/29/11 - 04:18 pm
0
0
The story has been updated to

The story has been updated to include information on the SPLOST funds for the project.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 06/29/11 - 04:25 pm
0
0
I dont think they can use

I dont think they can use that money other than property tax relief. I just had a 150 plus page document sent to my email about reallocation of funds, so I have some reading to do to make sure... :/

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/29/11 - 04:35 pm
0
0
I just read the updated

I just read the updated article. This should be a big red flag!! I think Deke may have just found an extra $5.1 million in SPLOST funds for his ballpark without having to go before the voters. This is big news and people should be very concerned about it.

Riverman1
84926
Points
Riverman1 06/29/11 - 04:35 pm
0
0
The article says, "the $5.1

The article says, "the $5.1 million will be "redirected within the category of parks/recreation/culture/library/facilities."

That leaves lots of room to be loose with the money.

Riverman1
84926
Points
Riverman1 06/29/11 - 04:37 pm
0
0
Just go ahead and give the

Just go ahead and give the money to Mayor Copenhaver-Boardman so he can use it for his creative financing he praises as a way to get around the wishes of voters.

Riverman1
84926
Points
Riverman1 06/29/11 - 04:46 pm
0
0
Corgimom, about where the

Corgimom, about where the Ruff House was built, isn't that location ridiculous? It is a beautiful building sitting real close to the street in an area with those old grey falling down slums. It's bizarre. It's like a huge UFO came down in the middle of this community. The people who live around the Ruff House have as much to do with it as they would with aliens on a UFO.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/29/11 - 05:34 pm
0
0
anyone think it is a bit too

anyone think it is a bit too convenient that this announcement about The Miller, that may bring its SPLOST funds up for grabs, occurred less than a week after the commission voted to task Fred Russell with developing a financing package for a ballpark.. and even Deke himself said that there were all sorts of "creative financing options" available that would keep this from going before the voters on a ballot?? Watch this people.. this already doesn't smell right

ECDanes
1
Points
ECDanes 06/29/11 - 06:39 pm
0
0
How much you want a bet that

How much you want a bet that Deke is lounging back with a beer on the phone with Cal Ripken, shouting: "It's Miller Time!"

broad street narrow mind
348
Points
broad street narrow mind 06/29/11 - 07:48 pm
0
0
you mean deke and cal talk on
Unpublished

you mean deke and cal talk on the phone? i guess they never got around to discussing "transaction plans" since fred needs to spend the next sixty days explaining that kinda stuff to cal. what do you suppose deke and cal talk about then every week?

blues550
380
Points
blues550 06/29/11 - 07:53 pm
0
0
Bulldoze it. Another fiasco
Unpublished

Bulldoze it. Another fiasco and now we have another non-profit up and running. Just what Augusta needs. Now we may know what caused Self to bolt. Bring on the stadium, the team stinks but people turn out.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/29/11 - 08:04 pm
0
0
blues550, you are right,

blues550, you are right, people do turn out for the ball games.. just about enough to fill Lake Olmstead stadium to half capacity most nights. So why eactly do we need a new stadium?

Sweet son
10554
Points
Sweet son 06/29/11 - 08:12 pm
0
0
Maybe some of the SPLOST

Maybe some of the SPLOST funds could be allocated for football lights at Augusta Prep. Oh, my bad, it is in Columbia County. But it is recreation!

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 06/29/11 - 09:22 pm
0
0
The SPLOST vote for this was
Unpublished

The SPLOST vote for this was CORRUPT. They held the vote in the summer away from Obama's NOVEMBER ballot so they could get enough hands in the money jar for it to pass. Now it's all working out as planned. Money not appropriated for projects like the Miller will disappear. HOW do private individuals get taxpayer money anyway? What if the $$ had been given to renovate the Miller? Could Knox have used taxpayer $$ to renovate then sell? Boy, we taxpayers and tax voters are a bunch of suckers!

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 06/29/11 - 09:35 pm
0
0
Voter apathy strikes again...

Voter apathy strikes again... there were precints with zero votes. Its only a penny, right?

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 06/29/11 - 10:07 pm
0
0
penny ante..

penny ante..

Brad Owens
4583
Points
Brad Owens 06/30/11 - 04:27 am
0
0
I wish I had the cash to buy

I wish I had the cash to buy this place and return it to showing movies once again.

They commission should give Peter time to find another buyer, and based on who they are and what they want to do with the property, the SPLOST should stay where we voted to put them.

Had it been just any old building I don't think the 5mil would have been approved.

People love the Miller and if you have ever seen a movie there or seen it when it was in operation, you would love it too.

This would be a great Performing Arts Center. I urge Dr. Greenbaum and his committee to take a look at the Miller.

Before he said they only wanted a new facility, but I would hope they would look at the site again.

@coco rubio,

coco, if they did that, wouldn't it just be in competition with the Imperial and make it harder for both to survive? I like the idea, and it would be great if the Miller could be done like that, but the question in my mind is; do we want to hurt one venue to make another one?

..

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs