Arcada Theatre OK'd for weekend shows, but 'there's still a way to go' with building
The show will go on ... for now.
St. Charles officials have given operators of the Arcada Theatre a temporary occupancy permit for the weekend.
"The critical issues, that required the theater to be shut down, have been addressed," St. Charles Fire Chief Joe Schelstreet said. "There's still a way to go with this."
Inspectors will be back on Monday to go over more work that needs to be done, city officials said.
The city ordered the 93-year-old theater shuttered Thursday, causing Arcada CEO and President Ron Onesti to postpone a rock concert slated for last night. The temporary pass was granted hours before Friday's concert, Last in Line, made up of members of several classic heavy metal bands, took the stage. The venue's other performances this weekend will be allowed as well.
Three major changes were required to get the theater's doors open, Schelstreet said.
First, a number of rows of seats were removed to allow for "better egress" in case of emergencies. Additionally, the audience will be briefed before each show about how to locate appropriate exits during emergencies.
And finally, an electrical panel that was missing a secured cover in the basement has been fixed.
"We're safe and ready to open," Onesti said.
The theater was the subject of several safety complaints dating back to November, city officials said. In recent weeks, firefighters and Nicor responded to a gas leak outside the theater during a show.
City officials ordered the inspection after complaints about overcrowding, not being able to hear fire alarms during shows and accessibility of exits were investigated and found valid late last year. Onesti said the other complaints had been remedied or were misunderstandings. The overcrowding complaint resulted when a comedian went 45 minutes long on his set late last year and the theater was filled while people coming for the second show were being let into the lobby.
An independent third-party inspection was done nearly two weeks ago. The inspector recommended closing the venue until some life-safety issues were remedied.
Schelstreet said once the city received the recommendation, they acted on it.
Inspectors complimented Onesti's quick response to their concerns.