From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Feb 2003
posted July 01, 2003 07:25 PM
From the Daily Herald:
Board gives theater new lease on life
By Justin Kmitch Daily Herald Staff Writer
The historic and historically controversial DuPage Theatre received one last chance at life Wednesday in a nearly historical vote that Village President William Mueller called "history made in Lombard."
In a special meeting Wednesday, the village board and Mueller voted 6-1 to hand over the downtown theater to The DuPage Theatre Foundation, a nonprofit foundation.
The organization is now responsible for raising the money to save the long-shuttered theater and turn it into a cultural arts center complete with shops worthy of a redeveloped downtown district.
Trustees also voted 4-2 to donate $1 million in financial assistance from the village's tax increment financing money to the project.
"This is huge and we're so excited that the political fighting is over and the deal is done," said Martin Carroll, a representative of The DuPage Theatre Foundation.
"It's going to be a lot of work, but we're jumping on the fund-raising task now and we're going to be ready to go."
The plan now, Carroll said, is to immediately begin raising the money to restore the theatre.
Once complete in 2007, he said the foundation wants to use the theater to show vintage films, hold concerts and theater productions, house educational programs for kids and serve as a meeting place for community groups.
"It will be a cultural arts center for all of DuPage County, not just Lombard residents," he said. "We've got a talented board of people to make sure the theater is something special."
Trustee Richard Tross, once an opponent of the plan, supported the project Wednesday but said this is the theater's last chance for survival before the site is bulldozed.
"If by the time the money is due for construction contracts, they don't have it, it's over and time to move forward with a new vision for downtown development," Tross said. "This theater is gasping for life and this is the last rescue as far as I'm concerned."
Trustee Steven Sebby, however, stood his ground and was the lone opposition when the vote came.
"We just gave a million dollars and 18 months to a dilapidated, old run-down building so now we'll have to see what happens," Sebby said.
The building's fate was in limbo for years. In recent months, trustees have held off on moving forward because they'd been waiting to hear if a $1 million state grant was still coming, given the financial troubles in Springfield.
Trustee Rick Soderstrom approved giving the theater to the foundation but along with Sebby voted against the financial agreement, which relies on local tax money and commuter parking profits.
"My word is bond and I stand by my word that I will not support this item being funded by local (tax increment financing) money," Soderstrom said.
The first fund-raiser to be held by a separate group, Friends of the DuPage Theatre, will be held July 25 at the Carlisle in Lombard.
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