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St. Charles has big plans for former George’s

The city St. Charles has approved purchase George's Sporting Goods building 107-109 E. MaSt. | Paul Sullivan for Sun-Times Media

The city of St. Charles has approved the purchase of the George's Sporting Goods building at 107-109 E. Main St. | Paul Sullivan for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 13, 2013 6:04AM

ST. CHARLES — The taxpayers of St. Charles recently bought a fixer-upper in the city’s downtown.

In December, the City Council approved spending $225,000 to buy the George’s Sporting Goods building at 107-109 East Main St. adjacent to the Arcada Theatre. The historic 1920’s building was purchased “as is” from the Poczekaj family which had owned and operated George’s Sporting Goods for 40 years. They closed the business last year.

The historic building has been on the city’s target list of acquisitions for a long time, said St. Charles Economic Development Director Chris Aiston. “We wanted to buy it as soon as possible to lease to a new owner. It was not going to be used for government.”

Initially priced at $360,000, the building was in need of serious repair and was never on the public market, said Aiston.

“We walked through it three times with two architects and an engineer to determine what needed to be done to make it safe for occupancy. The upstairs apartments had been vacant for several years. Based on those walk-throughs, we throttled the price down to $225,000,” he said.

The city now is issuing requests for proposals for remodeling the building, according to Aiston.

The purchase of the building will be paid for with residual funds from other capital improvement projects such as the Red Gate Bridge that came in under budget.

The acquisition of the George’s Sporting Goods building can move forward with no additional cost to taxpayers.

“The last couple of years,” said Aiston, “ have been a good bidding environment for labor and material due to the down economy.

”We intend to lease the property to a suitable user that is either an accessory to the Arcada Theatre or complimentary. The Arcada draws patrons to shop and dine, and stay at our hotels.”

According to a study conducted by the city, the Arcada Theatre has a $2 million dollar annual impact on downtown St. Charles. The study added that the impact would be greater if the Arcada’s facilities were enlarged.

Ron Onesti leases the Arcada and runs the show. Eight years ago, he leased the Arcada, at the time a $4 movie house about to be turned into office space.

An experienced producer of major concerts and events, Onesti said, “I’ve been doing this so long I’m working at the top of the game now (with agents and talent). “It’s all about relationships” he said, explaining how he can attract big name talent to his 940-seat Arcada Theatre.

St. Charles Mayor Don DeWitte touted the purchase of George’s as a wise investment in the city’s future. “There is no question the that the Arcada Theatre is an asset to our downtown. The facility has served the city well and I look forward to continuing that fine tradition.”

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