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Elks Theatre has new owner, but details about buyer aren't released; it sold below asking price

By Dan Miller

Posted 9/27/19

A sales agreement to transfer the Elks Theatre to a private entity known as Elk Center LLC was approved 3-0 tonight by the Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority.

The offer …

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Elks Theatre has new owner, but details about buyer aren't released; it sold below asking price


A sales agreement to sell the Elks Theatre to a private entity known as Elk Center LLC was approved 3-0 by the Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority during a special authority meeting Friday.

The offer from Elk Center LLC is to purchase the theater property for $200,000.

The resolution the authority approved provides Elk Center LLC with a $15,000 credit, for the property not now being connected to water and sewer, and for the property not being connected to water and sewer at the time of closing.

The authority’s approval of the sales agreement, dated Sept. 20, is conditioned upon Elk Center LLC approving “a clarifying edit” acknowledging that the property is not now connected to water and sewer and will not be connected at time of closing, authority member and Mayor James H. Curry III said in reading portions of the resolution before it was approved by the authority.

Curry and the two other authority members present at Friday’s meeting — authority Chairman Ian Reddinger and member Michael Woodworth — all declined to answer questions regarding who and what Elk Center LLC is, and what the entity plans to do with the theater — such as whether the entity plans to reopen the theater on a standalone basis or as part of a performing arts center, which other groups have proposed doing.

“At the advice of the solicitor, we are not divulging the private buyer information,” Curry said. “This is an offer, an agreement to proceed with it. Until settlement actually happens with real estate, it’s never a done deal. I don’t feel comfortable releasing people’s private information in light of that.”

“They’ve made an offer. We accepted,” Reddinger added.

The authority solicitor was not present, nor was anyone present representing Elk Center LLC. Council President Angela Lloyd, who is also an ICDA member, was not at the Sept. 27 meeting.

Elk Center LLC was created on Sept. 23, 2019, according to records filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State and posted online. The DOS records do not identify any officers for Elk Center LLC.

The address for Elk Center LLC is listed as suite 201 of 4800 Linglestown Road in Harrisburg.

Suite 201 is occupied by Ameritech Media. Ameritech Media is a marketing firm, Andi Murphy, the company’s director of communications and marketing, told the Press & Journal when a reporter went to the offices Monday.

Murphy offered no comment and had no details to provide regarding Elk Center LLC. However, she said someone with the company would be in touch with the Press & Journal.

The Department of State records list Dustin T. Foreman of Harrisburg as the president of Ameritech Media Corp.

Curry said no date for settlement has been set and he could not estimate how soon it will take place. Elk Center still has a “due diligence period,” which Curry said would include the buyer having an inspection and appraisal done of the property, among other things.

Reddinger confirmed the asking price for the theater was $300,000. The authority received no other offers, he said. The theater has been listed for sale since December 2018 by RSR Realtors.

The authority closed the theater for renovations in April 2015 and it has not reopened since.

Prior to its closing, the Elks Theatre was considered the second longest continuously operating cinema in the United States, according to the Friends of the Elks, a nonprofit organization and the successor to the now defunct Greater Middletown Economic Development Corp., which last operated the theater while leasing it from the authority.

The authority decided to put the theater up for sale in May 2018, after the authority could not work out an agreement with Friends of the Elks to transfer the theater to the group for $1.

The Friends group had proposed renovating and reopening the theater as part of a performing arts center. Listing of the property was delayed until the authority could find a new Realtor — RSR — and reach an agreement with RSR.

RSR is to receive a 7 percent commission, according to the agreement the authority approved with RSR in 2018.

Greg Rothman, the listing agent for RSR, declined to provide details regarding the sales agreement when contacted by the Press & Journal on Monday.

“Need to get through due diligence,” Rothman said in an email responding to the inquiry.