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updated: 10/23/2012 5:26 PM

West Dundee keeps dream alive for regional arts center

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  • A rendering of what the old Ziegler's Ace Hardware store in West Dundee would look like if it's converted into the Fox Performing Arts Center.

    A rendering of what the old Ziegler's Ace Hardware store in West Dundee would look like if it's converted into the Fox Performing Arts Center.


West Dundee has signed off on a resolution that spells out its partnership with a local architect who hopes to turn an abandoned hardware store into a regional performing arts center.

But if architect Rick Browne wants the village's continued support for the Fox Performing Arts Center, he'll need to meet several deadlines.

They include:

• December: Submit letters from potential users, a list of people on the center's board of directors, an organizational chart that indicates whether they are paid, part-time or full-time staff and proof that the organization is a nonprofit.

• January: Submit a general outline of a 12-month schedule so the village has an idea of the kind of programming that would take place.

• January and June: Turn in a report on fundraising efforts.

The village board agreed to give the organization an August 2013 deadline to raise $1 million. At that point, the board also will review the financial feasibility of the project. Browne's goal is to raise $1.8 million by August 2014.

So far, Browne, who is partnering with Tom Roeser, owner of Otto Engineering in Carpentersville, has raised $225,000 for the center in pledges and donations.

"If I can raise all the money, I'm going to be able to open our doors debt free," Browne said. "If we can do that in two years time, that would be pretty remarkable."

The village owns the hardware store at 118 S. First St., which it bought from the Ziegler family in 2010. The agreement states that the performing arts organization would have the option of buying it from the village for $372,875 -- the amount the village paid to the Zieglers, plus interest. The center also would need to pay a $350,000 redevelopment fee to the village, which would go to the Ziegler family.

The village board has agreed to contribute $150,000 for improvements and to consider an initial 10-year lease for the use of the property.

Browne hopes to save the hardware store from the wrecking ball by turning it into a state-of-the-art performing arts center facility he says would revitalize the downtown and become a regional hub for actors, musicians and artists.

But a pair of village officials threatened to pull the plug on the project because Browne was not even close meeting a July 30 deadline to raise $500,000 for his vision.

In the end, the board agreed to let the project go forward after Browne's supporters packed the board room.

The board solidified the agreement last week and it even had support from Trustee Norm Osth, one of the plan's biggest critics.

"I basically, in addition to other people, was able to, let's say, write some very stringent requirements in terms of what we are expected to do versus what they were expected to do," Osth said. "I never not supported the concept; the only thing I've been unsupportive of are the procedures and protocol that Mr. Browne brought to the board. I mean that he didn't seem to be very well funded or have a good outline of where he was going and how he was going to get there."

Browne doesn't have any fundraisers scheduled at the moment, but is working to launch an awareness campaign, develop a board of directors, become a nonprofit organization and go after corporate donations.

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