Yesterday, I was at the ribbon cutting for the Warwick Center for the Performing Arts at the former Georgia Pacific Plant on Church Street Ext. The new home is remarkable! It is airy, light filled, and most of all a state-of-the-art performance space. Mellissa Padham Maas is a Warwick native and an accomplished dancer whose passion for dance is evident in every aspect of the new home. I urge anyone interested in the cultural aspects of our community to please visit to see firsthand this incredible undertaking.
Some years ago, Georgia Pacific, who had a very successful plant and printing operation in our community, downsized. The result was that the plant was purchased by the very wealthy Koch brothers as a real estate investment. The fear locally amongst the business community that this was a minor investment for a large property holding company and would languish empty.
Myself, Supervisor Sweeton, President of the telephone company, Dwayne Albro, local lawyer Robert Krahulik, and Chamber President Michael Johndrow formed an LLC focused on issues of economic development. This committee would eventually include former County Executive Lou Heimbach, Maureen Halahan, President CEO of Orange County Partnership, and WTC representative Marie Corlett. At that moment it was expressly formed with the matter at hand, the former GP Site. We met weekly to strategize the real estate potential and to promote the value of the property. Through these efforts and synchronicity, a buyer was found, not only a buyer but someone who embraced our community and understood the value of community investment. This was Bob Schluter. He and his son have turned the former GP facility into a hub of business, service, and culture. It has been a quiet but powerful transformation.
It’s upon these shoulders and the efforts of many with a vision to make Warwick greater, more resilient, more culturally rich, that the Warwick Performing Arts Center becomes such a potent example of what we can accomplish.