Guthrie: Drive-in won't re-open this summer, but deal isn't off...yet
The Linton Drive-In won't reopen this summer, says current owner Ed Guthrie.
"I don't see no way for it to open this summer," Guthrie said. "It's almost the first of August."
Further, a communication breakdown between Guthrie and potential developer Paul Allsup could completely scuttle one proposed deal which would re-open the Linton Drive-In.
However, if that happens, Guthrie said he'd explore other options to bring the facility back.
Those include seeing whether the drive-in, the first of its kind to open in Indiana in 1948 and among the first in the nation, could receive a historic preservation grant from the state.
Presently, only the screen remains standing, though Guthrie does have some of the original electronics, including car speakers.
Allsup, a Nashville entrepreneur, was supposed to meet with Guthrie, sign a contract and work out details on leasing the land soon after July 4.
However, that hasn't happened.
"I don't know if maybe he's been busy on other projects or what," Guthrie said. "But I haven't heard from him in about two weeks."
Allsup's wife Chianna, named by her husband as the co-owner of the drive-in project, contacted by telephone Thursday evening, said her husband was working.
"I don't know what's going on with that" drive-in, she said. "He doesn't keep me in the loop on that."
Paul Allsup did not return calls.
That means the planned Aug. 10 re-opening date Allsup proposed won't happen.
"Definitely, nothing is going to happen this summer," Guthrie said.
The delay also makes it highly unlikely the rib festival, proposed by Allsup for later in the season, will occur either.
Since Allsup had already begun soliciting pre-payment for the festival by websites, he said in late June that should the Ribfest not occur, he'd offer refunds.
That event's not been officially cancelled, but Guthrie doesn't expect it will happen.
Initially, Allsup and Guthrie announced a "gentleman's agreement" in June where Allsup would lease the land for a decade, with an additional decade's option on the deal.
Plans called for the contract to be formalized soon after July 4, when Guthrie's attorneys returned and drew up the paperwork.
However, that hasn't happened. Nor has he returned Guthrie's calls.
"I don't want to say the deal's off," Guthrie said. "I wouldn't say that. But if someone comes around and wants to do something else with the property, I'd hear them out and give them a chance."
The Linton businessman's also looking into potential grants or partnerships to develop the old-drive in, once known as the Greene County Drive-In, as a historic site.
It lasted as a theatre 51 years, closing in 1999 soon after Guthrie purchased the property from Charles Cassida.
Cassida owned the theatre, the first of its kind, for almost all its lifespan, with his son Mike serving as projectionist.
Controversy arose soon after the deal was announced over Allsup's credentials, with some critics suggesting the businessman had a pattern of proposing projects which never came to fruition.
Allsup had suggested a massive expansion of the drive-in, installing a permanent carnival and rock concert auditorium on the property.
He predicted he'd underwrite around $300,000 in improvements, including the construction of three new Jumbotron screens which could highlight musical performances, while doubling as movie screens.
Cathy Sims Greenwood, an early supporter of Allsup reopening the drive-in, clashed with the promoter, contending she's been contacted by multiple people who claim Allsup committed fraud and wrote bad checks.
Allsup denied that talk, allowing one check had been dishonored in Johnson County, Ind. for $99 amid a family conflict.
"I didn't write any bad checks, and I have the proof of that -- all the papers," he said.
Allsup noted that charge had been dismissed, and has promised repeatedly he'd present Guthrie and the Daily World with paperwork vindicating himself.
That hasn't occurred yet.
Allsup also lists ownership of an American Basketball Association minor league team, the Nashville Soul, and work as a concert promoter for musicians such as Rod Stewart and Michael Bolton. However, allegations have arisen he promoted shows and performances by rappers at ABA events which were never agreed to by the artists.
"That was someone who worked for me and a local rapper who did that," Allsup said in June.
That hasn't happened, nor has he returned calls from the Daily World.