By Dee Longfellow
For The Elmhurst Independent
According to a release received by the Independent on Sunday, Sept. 22, the Elmhurst-First LLC purchased a property on behalf of the Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts (ECPA), furthering plans to establish a performing arts center in downtown Elmhurst. The transaction was completed on Thursday, Sept. 19
According to Board member Laura Michaud, the property is located at 109-119 First Street, directly across from the Elmhurst Metra station, and is considered a strategic location due to its centrality within the downtown area, as well as its accessibility and visibility from public transportation. Its central downtown location is further expected to bring a positive boost to the local economy, especially restaurants, bars and other businesses, as projected in the Feasibility and Economic Impact Study conducted jointly between ECPA and the City of Elmhurst during the early planning stages of the project.
Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley is especially pleased.
“I’ve been saying this all along, and now it’s even more true – a performing arts center in Elmhurst will be one of the crown jewels of this city,” he said. “I am personally excited about the potential that ECPA has in store for us.”
The effort to understand the viability of a downtown performing arts center began in 2016 when a group of professionals with a common vision developed an interest survey and business plan. They brought experience in theater management, commercial real estate, performing arts and business to the newly-formed Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts or ECPA, an Illinois not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
Feasibility studies, individual donors, corporate sponsors, volunteers and community support have all helped advance the initiative to this stage — securing a location for the theatre.
“This is a significant milestone in ECPA’s initiative to bring a performing arts center to the heart of Elmhurst,” said Thomas D. Marcucci, former Mayor of Elmhurst and current ECPA Board Member. “We have done the research and know that building this center will be financially stable.”
One of the members of the Elmhurst-First LLC is local business owner Willis G. Johnson, who is happy to see the ECPA project moving forward.
“We are pleased to be a part of the advancement of the ECPA project for Elmhurst and the surrounding suburbs,” he said. “This investment in our community will help ensure we cultivate local talent and will add a new cultural component to Elmhurst’s vibrant arts and entertainment offerings.”
Willis and his wife Shirley own Elmhurst’s York Theater and Tivoli Enterprises Inc./Classic Cinemas, which includes the historic Tivoli Theater in Downers Grove.
The next important phase involves design, construction planning and a capital campaign. The capital campaign will target fundraising through large donors including opportunities for naming rights, grants and individual donations.
The First Street building will retain its current retail and residential space for the next four to five years during the planning and capital campaign.
To further support the ECPA, please mark the calendar now for Saturday, Nov. 9, when the organization holds its fall gala at the Elmhurst Art Museum. Full details to follow.
For more information on ECPA, visit ecpa-elmhurst.org/ or email [email protected]