Homewood still planning downtown theater

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Homewood still planning downtown theater

April 14, 2021 - 21:55
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With the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District’s lease for use of the village auditorium ending, Homewood maintains its interest in developing the space into a downtown theater.

The property is attached to the village hall. The lease agreement between Homewood and the park district has been in place for at least 20 years, according to Debbie Kopas, executive director of the park district. The arrangement officially ends on April 30.

Chocolate Fest 2018 was one of a number of Homewood indoor festivals held in the auditorium while it was leased to the H-F Park District. (Chronicle file photo)

Chocolate Fest 2018 was one of a number of Homewood indoor festivals held in the auditorium while it was leased to the H-F Park District. (Chronicle file photo)

Village Manager Jim Marino said Homewod still plans to convert the auditorium into a performing arts center but will need funding to become available.  A study determined upgrades were needed for sound and lighting, seating would need to be added and the current bleachers may need to be replaced. 

“The feasibility study was done a few years ago and determined that it would cost beyond our means to convert the space into a full-fledged performing arts center. Thus, a scaled back, phased approach needs to be taken,” Marino said. “The cost and timeline is yet to be determined.” 

Marino said the aim is to create something similar to the Arcada Theater in St. Charles, which seats about 900 and hosts concerts, musicals and comedy shows. 

Local performers would be part of the plan in Homewood, Marino said. 

The Homewood auditorium contains a basketball gym, an elevated stage and seating for about 300. It’s used for basketball, volleyball, day camps and community theatre productions. It’s also been rented for parties and private events.

The village has used the space in recent years for indoor festivals like Chocolate Fest  and Rail Fest. 

The park district will move sports activities to H-F Sports Complex at James Hart School, as much as possible. Commissioner Dallas Collins said it may affect park district revenue due to the loss of renting the space to sports teams.

Those rentals have been limited during the pandemic. 

Construction will likely need to be phased in over a period of years, Marino said. Homewood has assigned a grant writer to begin looking for funding. Mayor Richard Hofeld has discussed it with state legislators, as well.