Hayes Center sells for $1.422 million

Article Published: Aug. 22, 2012 | Modified: Aug. 23, 2012
Hayes Center sells for $1.422 million

Anna O'Neal, left, of K&L Gates law firm conducts the auction Tuesday in Boone, as curious onlookers observe.

Photo by Jeff Eason

Wells Fargo bank was the sole bidder at $1.422 million on Blowing Rock’s Hayes Center during a public auction Tuesday, Aug. 21.

Unless another entity submits an upset bid in the next 10 days, the bank will own the roughly 26,000-square-foot arts center, all its contents and the 4.5 acres on which it sits.

The 12:30 p.m. auction proceeded quickly at the Watauga County Courthouse on Tuesday, as attorney Anna O’Neal of K&L Gates law firm in Charlotte read the notice of sale in front of a crowd of about 15 onlookers.

The Mariam and Robert Hayes Center, also called the Blowing Rock Cultural Arts Center during its final years, opened in August 2006 after being first proposed around 2000.

The facility cost almost $10 million to build and featured a 348-seat auditorium, smaller theater-in-the-round, dressing rooms, meeting rooms and other amenities.

The Hayes Center temporarily suspended operations in 2009 after a significant decline in income from donors and ticket sales.

In 2011, the board formed a repositioning team with an arts consultant and hired Todd Morgan as its managing director. It scheduled a number of weekend productions for a season that ran from June to October, slashing prices as the season came to a close.

In February 2012, the center’s board announced that ownership of the building would revert to Wells Fargo bank due to indebtedness. At that time, the outstanding debt totaled about $4.5 million, according to board member Lee Layton.

The property’s tax value is $3,847,900, according to Watauga County records.

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