Schaumburg takes next step toward performing arts center
Schaumburg trustees voted 5-1 Tuesday to recommend advancing the consideration of a performing arts center intended to compete in the Chicago theater market and attract more visitors and businesses to the village.
The recommendation is for village staff to seek out conceptual drawings for a 2,800-seat facility on Schaumburg's existing convention center campus, as well as to seek a commitment from a potential operator well-connected in the industry.
Consultants the village has hired emphasized that the latter is an absolute necessity to be able to compete with the powerful companies already in the Chicago theater market.
Skepticism expressed by a few village trustees at the last project update in November was resolved to a degree by research showing the estimated cost of the project could be reduced to $87 million from $105 million.
Village staff members projected $69 million for construction alone.
By the end of the year, the village will have saved $24 million since 2004 for the long-discussed project. That would leave $53 million to be borrowed even if an operator or corporate sponsor put up no other money, Village Manager Brian Townsend said.
Townsend said the village could retire this debt with annual payments of $3.5 million for 25 years, assuming a 4 percent interest rate.
Trustee Frank Kozak, who had expressed concerns about funding such a project last November, said the new numbers were more in line with what he'd hoped to see.
But Trustee Marge Connelly, who voted against moving forward, said the funding question remained her major reservation about the project.
"I'm still not convinced we can do this without significant long-term debt, and it's the long-term debt that concerns me," she said.
But when resident Barry Newman asked whether a voter referendum could decide the fate of the project, Connelly was the first to say she didn't believe such decisions should be made by referendums.
Townsend said he would be back to the board in three or four months with concept drawings, better cost estimates, and an update on his talks with potential operators.
But even if trustees continued to give green lights to the project, Townsend said it was unlikely construction could begin any earlier than 2019 and would then take at least 18 months to complete.
Trustees will formally vote on their own recommendation Tuesday, May 23.