by Dave Noble, City News Editor
ELMHURST – Increased vehicle congestion, a glaring lack of space outside of the building to host red carpet events, and the potentially arduous task of finding customer parking for Armand’s Tuesday night “buy one, get one free” pizza deal are among the concerns of Elmhurst residents who oppose a theater and performing arts center in the middle of town.
Slated to be built at 109-119 W. 1st St. and completed by early August, The Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts will be a 50,000-square-foot, multistage facility and a “vibrant gathering place” that showcases tolerable homegrown talent, finer area talent, and hosts events like the yearly Elmhurst Mime Theatre Awards.
While critics welcome a new venue suitable for regional pantomime productions, area rap artist performances and local awards shows, they are opposed to its location along the single-lane, one-way street already teeming with vehicles in search of parking or taking the “drive of shame” to the Robert T. Palmer underpass after getting stopped by a passing train while traveling on Addison St.
“There’s nowhere near enough parking in downtown Elmhurst for a venue like this,” said local resident Cindy Sommers, seemingly unaware of four different existing parking garages within a three-block radius and a Metra train station directly across the street from the future performing arts center. “I can’t imagine how chaotic that area will be when the Elmhurst Armpit Orchestra or some other big-name artist plays there.”
While many Elmhurst residents remain critical of the performing arts center location, proponents and artists point to a projected $809,000 in annual tax revenue and a study prepared by Chicago-based Johnson Consulting indicating that the average patron visiting the theater will spend $49.50 a night in restaurants, bars, and stores and an additional $25 in parking tickets.
“ ,” said local mime Marcel Podgorski, indicating his excitement to perform at the arts center through a series of body motions, hand gestures and facial expressions.
In related news, the City of Elmhurst announced that the privately-funded arts center will result in a $150 tax increase for every homeowner in Elmhurst.