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Ziggy’s announces it will be shutting its doors weeks after the City Council votes to expand the Entertainment District

This week, one of the owners of Ziggy’s publicly announced that the venue will be closing in February because its lease will not be renewed. This announcement came just two weeks after the City-Council Board Members voted to approve the expansion of the Entertainment District to encompass the area north of Ziggy’s.

Ziggy’s has been one of the most-established concert venues in the Winston-Salem area –originally at 513 Deacon Blvd. near Wake Forest University for 27 years before it moved to its current location in 2011 on the corner of West Ninth Street, Trade Street and North Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Charles Womack, one of the owners of Ziggy’s, said that he received a letter from the attorney of the landlords, Hank Perkins and Drew Gerstmyer, stating that the landlords chose not to renew the lease. Womack is a partial owner of Ziggy’s Winston Inc. along with Bradford McCauley and Jay Stephens, Womack said.
“The letter said the landlords are no longer going to lease the building to us or my partners and they are planning to go in a different direction with the building,” Womack said. “We are very sad that we are having to close. We have aggressively looked for a new place for six months and haven’t found a new spot yet.”

Ziggy has hosted a number of well-known artists and bands including The Plain White T’s, Third Eye Blind, Shwayze and Rusted Root all within the past few months.

Its current location has been in the heart of the Entertainment District (E district) that was initially zoned in July of 2013.

Jason Thiel, the president of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, has said that he has told everyone to remain calm and that he has tried “assure folks that our downtown is on a positive trajectory.”.

“In the past we have had some other high-profile, large restaurant locations that have gone out of business and it has created some acute concern for downtown stakeholders,” Thiel said. “What we have seen in the past is that if the building has the infrastructure in place and does not require major funding to get open for the business, the landlord is usually going to have folks interested in the building for the same use.”

The E district is four acres of land near the corner of Trade St. and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive that allows for venues that could hold at least 300 people and permit outdoor music along with other amplified entertainment.

At the City-Council Board meeting on Nov. 2, the City Council Members unanimously voted to approve the expansion of this district to encompass the area north of Ziggy’s located on the north side of West Ninth Street between Trade Street and North Chestnut Street

The zoning petition was proposed by Louis Forrest and E.G. Forrest Co. Inc. to rezone the designated area from a Limited Industrial zone (L.I.) to an Entertainment Limited zone (E-L).

This means that large entertainment facilities that have the capacity to host at least 300 people will be permitted in the expanded area with the exclusion of a large entertainment facility in the Trade Street properties, said Paul Norby, the director of the Winston-Salem and Forsyth County Planning Department, at the City-Council board meeting.

The reason why the zone is an E-L zone rather than just an entertainment zone is because of the restriction of use in some, but not all, of the properties on Trade Street. This is to protect New Bethel Baptist Church from having a large entertainment facility across the street from it.

“[The zoning] gives the owners and developers more options than what they have under the current L.I. zoning,” Norby said at the City-Council board meeting. “The new zoning may encourage additional development and street life in this area as well.”

By expanding it to a E-L zone, the owners and developers will have 16 additional options open to them of what the buildings can be used for, Norby said at the City-Council Board Meeting.

At the City-Council board meeting, Norby said the Planning Board recommended approval and no one spoke in opposition at the Planning Board meeting.

No one spoke in opposition at the City-Council Board meeting either.

This area designated specifically for entertainment has always been well-supported by the Downtown Winston-Salem partnership who also supported the expansion of this district.

“We need an area where entertainment can flourish as we want it to,” Thiel said. “We want to continue to strategically grow in this way. I hope we get a place that has a number of uses where people can enjoy live entertainment and not feel like they have to go to another larger city like Charlotte or Raleigh to do that.”

With Ziggy’s closing, questions have arose about what will be entering the building in March. However, the new plans for the venue and the exact plans for the district after the new zoning have yet to be publicly released

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