Real estate investors Devin and Camille Manning Broome have plans to redevelop the former Sarki’s Oriental Rugs and Antiques Gallery building on Government Street into a free community theater and performing arts space.
The husband-and-wife team recently inked a deal with longtime owner Sarkis Kaltakdjan, who closed the store in March 2017 after 40 years, to buy the 10,000-square-foot building for $350,000.
The Broomes are not the first investors to look at the property, which has been on the market some six years, nor even the first to sign a purchase agreement on it. A deal in 2017 fell through after the potential buyers realized their plans to convert the space into a restaurant wouldn’t work financially.
The Broomes, however, believe they have a viable idea for how to repurpose the Mid City landmark.
“I walked in and it didn’t take long to hit me that everyone was trying to turn that space into something it’s not—an office or restaurants or apartments,” says Devin Broome, who co-owns a software company by day. “It’s an entertainment venue.”
The Broomes plan to spend some $300,000 renovating the building and demolishing a 1970s addition at its rear to open the space as a free performing arts facility that will be available to community groups, up-and-coming performers and youth organizations. As envisioned, the theater will be subsidized by revenues from a café that will serve coffee and light snacks as well as alcohol.
Manning Broome, who heads the Center for Planning Excellence, says the idea isn’t to make a profit but to cover costs and keep the lights on at a facility that would be an asset to the community.
“We don’t want a percentage but whoever uses the space will need to purchase from the bar or coffee shop,” she says.
In order to sell alcohol on site, the property will need to be rezoned from light commercial, or C-1, to C-AB-2. The Broomes have applied for a rezoning. A hearing is scheduled before the Planning Commission for Nov. 13.
The purchase agreement is not contingent on the rezoning. Devin Broome says they will buy the building regardless because it’s such a great investment at such a good price in a booming neighborhood. But he says plans for the community theater will only work if they are able to sell alcohol.
“I’m going to buy it no matter what,” he says. “But it’s a question of whether we do a deal that will only benefit a few people or do something that the entire community will be able to enjoy.”
Site Search 360 Trends