UPDATE: Hayes Center to be sold at auction
by Jeff Eason and Kellen Moore
A notice of sale filed with the Watauga County Clerk of Court on Tuesday indicated that the property would be sold Aug. 14 in Boone.
But that date may not be set in stone, as attorneys for the building trustee indicated Thursday that a new date is needed. No date has been set, and no information was provided about the reason for the change.
The 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 roughly 26,000-square-foot cost almost $10 million to build and featured a 348-seat auditorium, smaller theater-in-the-round, dressing rooms, meeting rooms and other amenities.
In its first three years of operation, the Hayes Center was home to the Blowing Rock Stage Company.
The Hayes Center temporarily suspended operations in 2009 to restructure after experiencing significant declines in income. Mortgage payments were suspended in 2009, board member Lee Layton said earlier this year, and any revenues since then went to pay outstanding debts to vendors and other creditors.
The center has since hosted only a handful of events, many associated with Blowing Rock's WinterFest and the Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival.
Last year, the Hayes Center board formed a repositioning team with an arts consultant and hired Todd Morgan as managing director, scheduling a number of weekend productions between June and October.
In February 2012, the board announced that ownership of the building would revert to Wells Fargo bank due to indebtedness.
Layton said in February that outstanding debt on the mortgage totaled about $4.5 million.
"It's a shame that such a fine facility has gone this way, but it's just too expensive a facility to maintain in that area given the economic situation we've gone through," Board Chairman Ron Bryson said Wednesday.
Now, the 4.5 acres off U.S. 321 Bypass, the building itself and the property within are up for auction at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Watauga County Courthouse at 842 W. King St.
The property includes high-end lighting and sound equipment, computers and other office supplies, said Kim Rogers, co-owner of Jenkins Realtors and the bank-appointed trustee of the property.
"It's all there, everything's there," she said. "It's just like if you got up from your desk and went home for the day."
Rogers said that individuals have called her with questions about the property but that no one stood out to her as a potential buyer.
The successful bidder will have to deposit 5 percent of the bid amount or $750 at the auction. The sale will then be held open for 10 days for upset bids as required by law.
Any unpaid taxes or liens will become the responsibility of the buyer.
"We all regret that it's come to this point," Bryson said. "It's a big loss not only for Blowing Rock but for the High Country in general."