The owner of the Sullivan Center, formerly the New American Theater, wants to donate the entire building to Rockford's Public Library. Not only that, but he's put in the money to renovate.
RPL sees the donation as an opportunity to expand culturally, but, library leaders are still on the fence, and they want the community's input.
"This building represents an iconic place in our downtown, and obviously it represents a dedication to arts and culture for our community." -says RPL Community Relations Officer Emily Hartzog.
The center's current owner fixed up the building. Some of the improvements include a new roof; heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system, and ADA accessible bathrooms. But, the library would have to pay for maintenance.
"We're really in a discovery phase, we think this is a wonderful opportunity for RPL to serve as a steward for this resource for the whole community. We think it's important that we get some feedback from major partners and from community members, and that they know what the board's vision is, and get a look at the numbers, because this does impact the library financially." -says Hartzog.
One positive aspect, the building could potentially be self-sufficient. The library can rent out the offices, theaters, and dance studio, while giving the public another reason to head downtown.
"It's going to capitalize on some of the success and the revitalization efforts the downtown area has already seen. The City Market, Friday Night Flix, a lot of these major events are really drawing people downtown, and we know when downtowns are successful, communities, as a whole, thrive." -adds Hartzog.
The community forum starts with a tour of the center Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. At 7, the library's Board of Trustees President will make a few comments, followed by a public Q & A until 8 p.m.
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