They say the best jokes hit close to home, and now Dave Chappelle is taking that literally. According to Yellow Springs News, the famed comedian has purchased a former fire station in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and received approval to transform the space into a combination comedy club and restaurant.
Chappelle’s roots in the area go back to his childhood, when his father worked as a professor at nearby Antioch College. Then, over the summer, he hosted a socially-distanced, outdoor standup series in the township’s Wirrig Pavilion. Now, he’s proving that the college town is more than just a place to ride out quarantine with the announcement of his new club.
The price of the sale is not public, but the fire station was originally listed for $400,000, and the township of Yellow Springs has been guaranteed a minimum of $320,000. Built in 1956, the 6,027-square-foot building will be redesigned by architect Max Crome, and is expected to have two patios and a maximum capacity of 140 people.
The Yellow Springs Development Corporation, a quasi-governmental organization overseeing the sale, considered three different proposals before selecting Chappelle’s. According to the YSDC’s board president Lisa Abel, they chose the comedy club because, “We believe it is the best and highest use of the fire station space, as an entertainment venue that does not directly compete with local businesses, and it helps draw additional commercial activity into the Central Business District.” She added that these considerations were valued more highly than income from the initial sale, saying, “We did not go with the highest bid.”
Another YSDC member, Van Ausdal, cited the comedy club’s “multiplier effect of having a venue like that for people to come not just for an evening, but a weekend, so the impact [is] on restaurants and shops, hotels and Airbnbs.” He added that it will also provide an opportunity “for professional artists to have a place to create.”
According to YSN, Chappelle has purchased more than half-a-dozen properties in Yellow Springs over the last two years through his company Iron Table Holdings, including the historic Union School House for $480,000, a house for $600,000, and the properties at 239, 241, 243, 309, and 403 Xenia Ave for just shy of $1.5 million combined. He plans to turn one of them into apartments, and another into a mixed-use building with a nail salon storefront and living arrangements up top. As for the rest, his intentions have not been made public.
Chappelle has been an active figure during the pandemic, and not just at his socially-distanced shows. He hosted SNL just after the election, and recently asked that Netflix and HBO Max cease airing Chappelle’s Show, since his contract did not account for streaming. Both streamers have complied with the request.
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