The Shed in Port Royal in poised to return to its former role as community gathering place after town council approved a contract Wednesday with a company that will market and manage the building.
The plan is to have The Shed used for parties, celebrations and events as often as possible. It also calls for part of The Shed to be designated the official town welcome center, provide incubator space for new businesses and celebrate events ranging from weddings to nonprofit fundraisers, according to the contract with Beaufort Weddings and Events, a partner of 303 Associates.
The changes are expected to transform the abandoned property the town bought for $475,000 in foreclosure last year. The Shed was originally a performing arts center.
The contract, which 303 Associates managing partner Dick Stewart has agreed to, splits revenue from events equally between the town and the managing company. However, a stipulation capping the town-paid electricity bill at $1,500 a month, which was added during Wednesday meeting, will need to be approved by Stewart, town manager Van Willis said.
"That'll make some of these guys flip the switches off maybe," councilman Vernon Deloach said.
Electric bills for The Shed have ranged from $180 to almost $1,100 a month, depending on how often it's used, Willis said. The temperature is maintained at 80 degrees to keep the humidity low, he said.
Beaufort Weddings and Events will advertise the center, use a $20,000 grant to make a video the visitors center and give nonprofit and government groups a 30 percent discount on events, according to the contract.
Willis said officials are working out landscaping plans so The Shed can host outdoor events.