Buffalo Grove village board members Thursday took a construction tour of the Buffalo Grove Park District's Community Arts Center, whose interim theater is expected to be completed May 31 and hosting a local production of "Shrek" on July 24.
The interim theater being built with $395,000 of park district funds is seen as a way of getting some immediate use out of the center. Its ultimate $9 million vision will likely require fundraising, grants and years of waiting, park district Executive Director Dan Schimmel said.
But the more modest 400-seat interim theater is seen as a major step in the adaptation of the former Congregation Beth Am synagogue at 225 McHenry Road, he said.
Though expected to serve the community well in housing the district's four annual drama productions, the theater has some compromises that would be absent from the $4.9 million version hoped to one day replace it.
According to Ted Haug, design principal at Waukegan-based Legat Architects, these compromises include sightline issues caused by the audience being on one level before a slightly elevated stage.
Productions are now scheduled at other facilities seen as less than perfect, or where -- as at Stevenson High School -- there are numerous scheduling conflicts to negotiate.
The interim theater also requires $200,000 more for its lighting and sound systems, much of which can be retained for the final version.
In fact, the future phases of the Community Arts Center will be done carefully to retain as much benefit from the original $395,000 project as possible, park district Deputy Director Ryan Risinger said.
Among these future phases are new space for the district's more than 300 dance program participants, culinary labs and fine arts classrooms.
Schimmel admitted that fundraising isn't something park districts are accustomed to, but research into potential grants has already begun.
"It's difficult, it truly is difficult," he told the village board.
Village President Jeff Braiman said he and the village trustees were pleased to see the progress the park district is making on the property it bought for $3.7 million.
"We support their efforts," Braiman said. "It's a wonderful benefit for the entire village."