Downtown Somerset Development Corporation deeds building to city with stipulation renovations will be completed

SOMERSET, KENTUCKY (October 12, 2020) — Somerset City Council passed a resolution at Monday’s meeting to assume ownership of the Virginia Theatre, agreeing to perform the renovations necessary to open the building as an arts, entertainment and multi-use space.

Downtown Somerset Development Corporation’s board of directors voted in September to deed the building, which the organization has owned since 2003, to the city for $1. The agreement between the two entities restricts the Virginia’s use to arts, entertainment and historical purposes and stipulates that if the building is not complete or functional by the end of 2022, it could revert back to DSDC at that time.

The ailing Virginia — once an integral part of the downtown landscape, serving as a theater and later a movie cinema — has been vacant for more than 25 years. Numerous attempts have been made to raise funds to revive the building, the latest efforts focused on replacing the roof and removing hazardous materials, theater seats and the cinema’s old balcony.

But much work remains to make the facility a functional space, and Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said the city is ready to make it happen.

“We are confident we can perform the necessary renovations, bring the building up to code, install proper facilities and revive the Virginia as a mixed-use facility people of this community can enjoy while also honoring the past,” Keck said.
Once complete, city resources and staff would be used to operate the facility. “It would be our intention to work with local groups and organizations to host productions in the space once complete,” Keck said.

Keck said he appreciates all the Downtown Somerset Development Corporation has done for the Virginia and the community over the years and looks forward to continuing the organization’s hard work to open the facility.

“We would love to be able to open the doors to the Virginia in 2022 to celebrate its 100th birthday,” he said. “With the addition of the Lake Cumberland Farmers Market, new downtown eateries and boutiques, street festivals and, of course, Somernites Cruise, downtown Somerset is full of life again. Now, the City of Somerset would like to extend that lifeline to the Virginia Theatre.”