Elmhurst residents can hear plans for new performing arts center

Elmhurst-area residents will have two chances in coming weeks to learn more about a proposed $25 million downtown performing arts and conference center.

Members of the Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts, or ECPA, will discuss their plans and the results of a recent feasibility study during presentations from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Elmhurst Public Library, 125 S. Prospect Ave., and from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at city hall, 209 N. York St.

The presentations will provide background on the group, a summary of the study results released in mid-January, and a question-and-answer session with organizers.

The group is trying to build support for a performing arts center that could cover 50,000 square feet. The proposed downtown building would house two theaters: a roughly 550-seat main facility with an orchestra pit and control room and a 130-seat "black box" convertible space.

Early plans also call for the center to feature backstage areas, lobbies, administrative offices and classrooms for educational purposes and rental opportunities.

A $35,000 report conducted by Chicago-based Johnson Consulting indicates the average person visiting the theater would spend $49.50 a night in area restaurants, bars and stores, generating more than $7 million a year.

ECPA board member Laura Michaud said the sessions are designed to build awareness of the plans and to encourage financial support from potential donors.

"We need money," she said Monday. "There's no doubt about it."

Michaud said board members have been meeting behind the scenes with officials from the city and Elmhurst College to garner support and "we're really moving forward."

The next major task is to find potential sites for the center. Identifying possible locations, she said, will help generate interest and make it easier to raise money.

Organizers say finding a spot downtown is key because of the availability of parking, the proximity of the Metra station and the number of restaurants and bars.

Michaud said the group recently got a boost when former Elmhurst Mayor Tom Marcucci joined its board of directors. Marcucci served as mayor for 16 years, from 1993 to 2009.

Arts center a multimillion-dollar dream in Elmhurst

Study: Elmhurst can support $25 million performing arts center

If you go

What: Informational sessions on a proposal to build a $25 million performing arts center in downtown Elmhurst

Who: Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts, or ECPA

When and where: 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Elmhurst Public Library, 125 S. Prospect Ave., and 7:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, at city hall, 209 N. York Road


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