The Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Sandra Baker and her business desk colleagues broke the news yesterday: The Moon will not rise on Camp Bowie Boulevard.
In brief, Ridglea Theater owner Jerry Shults told the Star-Telegram the Moon's lease is "null and void." What was to become the Moon will now be turned into a small theater/corporate event facility for 200-300 people. (It's unclear how this affects the slated-to-open-next month Ridglea Bar, which was also intended to be part of Shults' "entertainment complex.")
According to the article, the city's Zoning Commission approved a change last week to the zoning codes affecting the area of Camp Bowie near the Ridglea Theater. The tweak does not allow bars to operate within the new boundaries, which will be voted upon by the City Council March 6. Zim Zimmerman, the councilman whose district covers the Ridglea Theater, cites a lack of parking as being one of the key factors in revising the zoning code.
"I figured this was the direction things were going to go," Shults told the Star-Telegram. "We didn't think the zoning was going to change."
Although renovations on the Ridglea Theater continue (the shiny new marquee is nearly finished), it's unclear exactly how this will affect Shults's desire to host live music at the restored theater.
"Depressing" is not a big enough word to do justice to this development in the Ridglea Theater saga.
I'll reach out to the Moon's Chris Maunder and hopefully have an update this afternoon The city council will vote on March 6, for a change to the zoning code that not only kills any chance of the Moon opening next door to the Ridglea Theater, but that even the prospect of consistent live music just off Camp Bowie Boulevard has become mighty remote.
UPDATE: Just got off the phone with the Moon's owner Chris Maunder, who says he is "moving forward" with plans to reopen his venue, despite this setback. He's currently looking at different venue site possibilities, which he declined to elaborate upon, although moving back to the Moon's old Berry Street home is not an option: Maunder closed the doors Dec. 30 and the landlord has since found a new tenant.
"It's unfortunate that it's worked out that way," he says. "I was looking forward to the partnership with the theater."
But, sounding upbeat, Maunder is undeterred by the turn of events. "I want to go bigger," he says. "I'm looking forward to continuing to progress."
He also defended city councilman Zim Zimmerman, who has taken quite a beating on Twitter and Facebook today, as the target of music fans' wrath. "Zim has been very helpful in this process," Maunder says. "He's sympathetic to what's going on with me; I feel bad that everybody's bashing him. I have no issues with Zimmerman. I know he's looking forward to seeing me succeed."
Maunder had no comment on whether he's pursuing any legal options, with regards to his now "null and void" lease with Shults, and also declined to comment on the status of his relationship with Shults in the aftermath of these developments.
"It's very disappointing," Maunder says, when asked if he has any regrets or disappointments about how this chapter in the Moon's history played out. "I had a vision for my business, in partnership with the theater, and due to circumstances beyond my control, there's not much I can do, except continue to move on and find a location."
But before we end our conversation, one thing is made clear: "The Moon will reopen."
UPDATE x2: Sandra Baker has more this morning (Feb. 14), with regards to the progress of the Ridglea's renovation and quotes Shults as saying plans for the Ridglea Bar, situated right next door, "have been shelved." Shults appears to be less bullish about the "entertainment complex" that was discussed so openly a few months ago, instead scaling ambitions down to "a monthly big-band variety show."