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Arcada may benefit as St. Charles buys neighboring building

ROnesti owns has revamped once faltering ArcadTheatre St. Charles. |  Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Ron Onesti owns and has revamped the once faltering Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 19, 2012 8:37PM

ST. CHARLES — The city’s decision to buy a vacant building on Main Street could be the first step toward expanding the services available at the adjoining Arcada Theatre.

The St. Charles City Council voted this week to buy the former George’s Sporting Goods building at 107-109 E. Main St.

The Poczekaj family closed the George’s store earlier this year, after more than 40 years in business in downtown St. Charles.

City spokesman Lisa Garhan said acquisition of the building has been of interest to city officials for many years. She said the Poczekaj family decided the mounting maintenance demands of the building made now an opportune time to sell.

The building has been in a state of disrepair for some time and is consistently cited as a property that is in need of refurbishment by the Downtown St. Charles Partnership. Aside from the obvious maintenance needs to the exterior, structural deficiencies inside the building also exist, Garhan said.

“While demolition is certainly an option,” she said, “the city hopes to rehabilitate and adapt the building for an alternative use, preferably as an annex to the adjacent Arcada Theatre.”

Magnet for visitors

The Arcada, at 105 E. Main St., is owned by Ron Onesti, who books it weekly with concerts, many by big-name acts.

“There is no question that the Arcada Theatre is an asset in our downtown,” Mayor Don DeWitte said. “It has long been a landmark property and has served as a cultural and entertainment center for over 85 years.”

A recent study conducted by the city indicates that the Arcada generates about $2 million in economic activity annually through direct, indirect and induced spending, and creates 30 jobs. But the report also cites a lack of modern amenities as a major impediment to improved performance.

The report concluded that the historic 1920s-era theater could use meeting and pre-function space, modern restrooms, better concessions facilities and other complimentary uses.

“The city hopes to work in partnership with other stakeholders to address those issues and thereby enhance the overall economic vitality of the facility,” Garhan said.

The purchase will be paid for with approximately $230,000 in funds from other capital projects that came in below budget, and from projects that do not need to be completed this year.

St. Charles Economic Development Director Chris Aiston said the purchase could pay dividends in the future.

“The Arcada draws patrons to shop, dine and stay in our hotels,” Aiston said. “Restaurants cite the venue as something that pushes additional business through their doors, whenever performances are held. We hope to expand that to create even more economic activity and further expand the tax base.”

The transaction is expected to close before the end of the calendar year.

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