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Article updated: 7/13/2011 3:14 PM

Architect wants to turn W. Dundee hardware store into theater

A local architect wants to convert the former Ace Hardware store at 118 S. First St. in West Dundee into a regional cultural arts theater.

A local architect wants to convert the former Ace Hardware store at 118 S. First St. in West Dundee into a regional cultural arts theater.


Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

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A local architect with ambitious plans to turn an abandoned West Dundee hardware store into a regional cultural arts theater hopes the project would breathe new life into the downtown.

The building would become a haven for theater, music, photography and dance groups, while reserving performance space for high school and local theater groups, said Rick Browne, also a member of the village's appearance review commission.

But before that can happen, village officials need to determine whether the downtown and the building that long housed a Ziegler's Ace Hardware store are the right fit.

On Monday, the village hired Business Districts Inc. to perform a $7,000 study that would examine the feasibility of the plan that Browne brought to the board in May.

Given the other theater options in the area, the study also will determine whether West Dundee's demographics could support a 230-seat theater.

The village needs to know what it's getting into before making a commitment. The study should be completed within the next two months.

"We don't want the residents of West Dundee to foot the bill of something that's not going to be successful," Trustee Norm Osth said.

Browne lives in West Dundee and envisions his nonprofit board dealing with the interior renovations and programming, while the village pays for exterior work.

The village secured the 56-year-old building nearly two years ago from the Ziegler family for $350,000, half the value of its appraisal, Osth said.

The village's intent was to demolish the building and install temporary parking spaces. But the board delayed demolition so a few nonprofit organizations could present plans for the building's potential reuse.

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