Is this the catalyst?

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A downtown business venture is currently in the infant stage, but may very well turn out to be the catalyst that triggers a new day of dawning for Mount Olive’s downtown business district.

The plans of local businessman Ryan Roberts come with sincerity and determination.

“I want to bring back the activities and the way things used to be in downtown Mount Olive,” Roberts said.

He just recently purchased two already-condemned historic buildings in the downtown district.

The old Center Street Theatre and the former Krafts Studio building had been existing on controversy and legalities.

In human terms it was on life support.

Both were headed for demolition.

“I told town officials I don’t want any money, but I do want you to help me and work with me,” Roberts said.

The Krafts building is most likely to be demolished and probably turned into an off-street parking area, but Roberts’ plans to restore the old theater to what it once was, and more.

He said it will be a long and drawn out adventure for him, but with the town and the community’s support the old theatre will return to showing movies, as well as provide a wide variety of live entertainment.

He said the first step is to construct a new roof on the old theater.

Roberts currently owns and operates R&R Brewery, an already popular gathering place on North Center Street.

He is known as a go-getter and conversation with him clearly sends out a message if anyone can do what he plans – it is him.

Already, he and town officials are looking at state Small Town Development grant possibilities that would help move Roberts’ plans along.

His efforts have also put plans for a farmer’s market in the downtown area back on the table for discussion with town officials.

There had been some town board sentiment to eventually build one at the location of the old theater and Krafts Studio properties.

Roberts’ purchase of both sites turned that idea into a game changer.

The town already owns a vacant lot at the corner of Pollock and South Center streets.

Previously, it was the location being considered for a farmer’s market.

It is an excellent location.

Right now, Roberts is working with the town’s building inspector to put his plans in motion as soon as possible.

The opportunity to bring new and exciting life to downtown Mount Olive is here.

It is incumbent upon our elected officials to review and support what is best for everyone.

Roberts deserves a pat on the back for his investment and stepping up to the plate with a real plan.

William Holloman is a staff writer for the Mount Olive Tribune. He can be reached at wnh9326@gmail.com.

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