WAKE FOREST — The town of Wake Forest is moving ahead with plans for its forthcoming cultural center, and that means making a change to the local alcohol ordinance.
The town purchased the Tuxedo Junction building in June for about $1 million to convert it into a multipurpose artistic and cultural event venue. The Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to name the facility the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, reflecting its role in the broader plan to revitalize the downtown historic district.
“It’s going to be a draw for the community,” Parks and Recreation Director Ruben Wall said. “We want to draw more people downtown, and this facility has that capability.”
The space also lets the town “put its money where its mouth is” when it comes to revitalizing and investing in downtown Wake Forest, Commissioner Zachary Donahue said. The space could host anything from film festivals to weddings, he added.
The town alcohol ordinance, however, currently bans the consumption of alcohol on public property, including buildings owned by the town. That prohibition would get in the way when it comes to booking some kinds of events, such as weddings, at the center. The Board of Commissioners responded to that problem by carving out an exemption for the center.
The commissioners hashed out the details on an amendment proposed by Wall that makes it possible to sell alcohol at the center, provided that the vendor obtains permission from Parks and Recreation and has the proper permits from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
During the discussions on the wording, Commissioner Greg Harrington ascertained that the amendment did not mean the town would pursue an ABC license of its own. The people selling alcohol would be event-planning companies contracted for special events, rather than the local government itself.
The commissioners approved the amendment on first reading, but to become final it still requires approval at a second reading, slated for Tuesday.
Wall also presented plans for an opening celebration at the center, scheduled for Nov. 14-16. He wants to host a gala, a local film festival, and local talent and other performers, to provide a variety of entertainment.
Donahue said he would like to see the film festival become an annual tradition, with film classes throughout the year to engage young people in the art and produce movies to show.
“If we want to attract a creative economy, that’s a great way to do it,” he said.