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updated: 6/25/2013 10:38 AM

West Dundee arts center focus of study

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  • Local architect Rick Browne hopes to turn the former Ziegler's Ace Hardware building in downtown West Dundee into a regional performing arts center.

      Local architect Rick Browne hopes to turn the former Ziegler's Ace Hardware building in downtown West Dundee into a regional performing arts center.
    courtesy of R.R. Browne Architects


A study that aims to measure support for a regional performing arts center in West Dundee is under way, with results expected to be released late next month.

Rick Browne, a local architect, wants to convert an abandoned downtown hardware store at First and Main streets into the Fox Performing Arts Center, a 258-seat venue he hopes attracts artistic talent from across the region and breathes new life into the downtown.

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First, he'll need to raise about $1.8 million to make his dream come true. The study will indicate whether the region financially supports the concept, would actually patronize the center and how much money the center's board can raise for the project.

"The study really tells you if it's a go or a no go," said Browne, who commissioned the study. "In our preliminary findings, it's been a 99 percent green light (to) go forward with the project."

According to Tom Roeser, a member of the center's board of directors, the group has raised just under $300,000 in cash and pledges. Roeser himself has pledged tens of thousands of dollars toward the project.

The study will also determine the center's geographical user and donor bases in the Northwest suburbs. It will include the center's business model and Browne's projected plans for the theater.

"Soon we're going to know if this thing has legs," Roeser said.

The board's next fundraising event will be held at OTTO Engineering in early August. Roeser is OTTO's president and chief executive officer. The final details and date are now being worked out.

Browne is also scheduled to give a progress report to the West Dundee village board in August.

The village owns the hardware store and has agreed to partner with Browne by contributing $150,000 toward the building's improvements. The village will also consider an initial 10-year lease for Browne's use of the property.

Browne is thrilled about what the center could do for the region.

"It's been absolutely exciting about what this theater could not only bring to the community at large and our regional area, but also ... how we're going to tie it in with the local school districts around," Browne said.

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