The author is also a member of the company at DSI.
*UPDATE – The Chapel Hill News reported Monday (and Zach Ward confirmed on Facebook) that DSI’s new space will be at 462 W. Franklin Street, the former home of Mansion 462 next to Carolina Brewery.
CARRBORO – After a decade as a Carrboro institution, the DSI Comedy Theater announced last week that it was losing its lease in Carr Mill Mall in May—leaving its future in the area, at least temporarily, up in the air.
But now, theater owner Zach Ward says after a quick search and a lot of help from local business leaders, he’s close to finalizing plans for a new, larger space—in downtown Chapel Hill.
“Obviously it was a surprise, and the lease ending here was something that forced our hand in a couple different ways,” Ward says, “(but) in a matter of 48 hours, we identified a space in Chapel Hill and are now at a point where we’re dotting i’s and crossing t’s and figuring out if the space will work.”
The new space will be located at 462 W. Franklin Street, next to the Carolina Brewery. It’s several times the size of DSI’s current 1,300-square-foot Carrboro space.
“I’m very excited about the new space,” he says. “(It) will allow us to have shows, classes (and) rehearsals five nights a week, and an office space all in the same building…so we’re looking at it as an opportunity to really grow the company and create even more of a community than we have already.”
The timeline is still in the works, but Ward says the new space should be ready to open by the time the old one closes—so the theater can continue running classes and kids’ camps throughout the summer.
DSI has been in its Carr Mill location for eight and a half years, and in that time it’s become a significant part of Carrboro’s arts and entertainment scene; most notably, it hosts an annual festival in February that brings hundreds of comics to town from around the country. (It also draws comics to live in the area as well – including Hillary Nicholas, a former UNC student who says she moved back from Arizona partly because of DSI. “It’s been a little nervewracking” since the initial announcement, she says, “because if the theater [ever] moves, I will go with it for sure.”)
But Ward says the new location will be close enough to Carrboro that the theater can hang onto its roots—while simultaneously moving forward.
“Carrboro’s been fantastic to us – the town, the mayor – so it will be bittersweet,” Ward says. “But even though we are located in Chapel Hill, we’ll be able to partner with and serve Carrboro in the same way.”
Plans for the move began back in January: Carr Mill management elected not to renew DSI’s lease in order to allow the two-year-old Venable Bistro to expand into the space.