In 2009, the City Council approved Theatre in the Square to undergo a renovation adding an electronic marquee and a glass-covered triangular roof structure, displaying the comedy and tragedy masks. Since the building, owned by Goldstein, could not support the marquee, an independent frame was built with columns to hold it up. The columns encroached 18 inches onto city sidewalk.
A condition of approval was Goldstein had to sign an indemnification agreement with the city so if anyone was injured on the structure protruding onto city property, the city could not be held liable. Goldstein refused to sign the agreement, so Palmer Wells, cofounder of Theatre in the Square, signed it instead.
But Wells’ theater company ran into financial difficulties when the Great Recession hit, and the company closed its doors in 2012.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said while the easement was granted to Wells’ theater company, it was not transferrable to the landlord, Goldstein.
“That easement doesn’t have a right to be there because it expired,” Tumlin said, adding the easement would not be an issue if Theatre in the Square were still in business.
Goldstein has requested an easement from the city, but was told by his colleagues on the council he would need to sign an indemnity agreement stating the city would not be liable if the structure were to fall. Tumlin said it’s the same policy applied to other property owners requesting an easement.
No agreement has been reached, though Goldstein did appear before the Marietta Historic Board of Review last week requesting approval to tear down the renovations.
Councilman Grif Chalfant wondered if Goldstein was simply bluffing to avoid signing the indemnification agreement, but Chalfant also said Goldstein has torn down a building on the Square before.
Chalfant said when Goldstein didn’t get his way with the 1917-era Farmers and Merchants Bank building he owned, which was located between Shillings Restaurant and the Strand Theatre, he razed it in 2010, leaving a crater off Glover Park that remains to this day.
The Historic Board of Review tabled Goldstein’s request to rip down the Theatre in the Square renovations, opting to send it back to City Council to let a deal be reached, said Johnny Fulmer, member of the Marietta Historic Board of Review. The recommendation to postpone making a decision came from the board’s attorney, Gregg Litchfield, who works for Haynie, Litchfield and Crane, the same law firm as the city’s attorney, Doug Haynie, Fulmer said.
“Hopefully, the city and Philip will make an agreement,” Fulmer said.
Goldstein said he has hopes he can work something out with City Council, but declined to comment further.
“I don’t know at this point what’s going to happen,” Goldstein said.
Tumlin said the two are “kind of at an impasse.”
“Our position is fine. Do what you got to do, but if you don’t have the right to have that in the city of Marietta’s space, you’ve got to take it down,” Tumlin said.
The council meets tonight at 5:15 p.m. in the council chamber, at 205 Lawrence St., Marietta.