SPRINGVILLE — As part of a strategy to revitalize downtown, Springville's City Council has decided to purchase the historic Villa Theatre on Main Street.

The council voted Jan. 15 to buy the Villa Theatre—now renamed the Art City Playhouse—for $325,000 from its former owner, Gavin Grooms. The city will pay for the building out of the general city fund. Mayor Gene Mangum said they bought it for small groups to schedule recitals, plays and other cultural activities.

"It's certainly not going to be anything that's going to make us a lot of money," he said.

Grooms put the building, located at 254 S. Main, up for sale about three months ago because he and his wife, Sharilyn, couldn't juggle duties at the Springville theater and another they own in Provo.

"We just weren't able to properly do that building justice," he said. "So we thought it was best to have someone else do it."

Around the same time, Springville — long dubbed Art City — was facing its own cultural dilemma.

"We don't have a really good place in Springville for people to gather for the cultural arts," Mangum said.

When the Villa Theatre went up for sale, the Grooms family and city officials entered negotiations. City Councilmanr Phil Bird said he was interested in buying the building for the city because it was cheap in comparison to adding a theater into blueprints for a new city library.

"It would be a substantial amount of money to do that," he said.

Aside from reasons of frugality, Bird said he hopes the Art City Playhouse will revitalize that part of Main Street.

"This will give some impetus to development in downtown," he said.

Grooms agrees the purchase was a deal. Compared with cities like Provo that spent millions on the Covey Art Center, Springville is getting a playhouse for "pennies on the dollar."

The playhouse was originally built to be a movie theater in 1930, Grooms said. Though it will mainly host cultural activities, it may also host Saturday matinees, he said.

Grooms also said he wasn't sad to see the theater go.

"It's a relief," he said. "We feel like the theater is going to get better use."


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