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What Should Open in the Wheaton Grand Theater Building?

In a new weekly series, Patch asks readers how they would fill empty storefronts around Wheaton.

The iconic landmark of downtown Wheaton, the Wheaton Grand Theater, has been , but it has been empty for years.

The 12,000-square-foot former theater, 119-127 N. Hale is listed through Century 21 for $599,000.

In our new weekly series, "Visions for Vacancies," we're asking Wheaton residents what businesses they would like to see fill the vacant storefronts around town.

Last week, we asked you what should open in the old JB Winterberry space on Main Street.

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Whether it's a new indoor market, department store or something completely new, we want to hear what businesses you'd most like to see take over the Wheaton Grand Theater building in downtown Wheaton.

Patch asked Facebook fans what they think should open in the space. Below is what fans had to say:

  • Chris said: "I'd love to see it as a beautiful single screen theatre...but it did extremely well hosting local concerts and national bands.
  • Bill said: "I agree with Chris. If it was economically feasible, a "Music Box West" concept where intelligent foreign and independent films provide film buffs relief from the dull, big budget blockbuster films perpetually playing at the corporate multiplex theaters. Sadly though, that business plan is most likely a money pit."
  • Mayura said: "I was also thinking a single screen that could also act as a community theater. Keep the original intent of the space!"

Share your ideas in the comments.

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Laura August 22, 2012 at 02:33 PM
It would be great to have it as a theater. The Tivoli is great for Downers Grove and I would love to see that for Wheaton.
Tom August 22, 2012 at 07:30 PM
A parking lot.
Dan Balow August 22, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Make it a retro live music club with dancing. Partner with downtown restaurants for food and drinks. A tool to drive traffic downtown. Club would have regular performers and special performers, could be rented for special events, wedding receptions, etc. Have special concerts broadcast live on radio and video streaming. Again, make it a way to build downtown traffic.
Curt B August 22, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I don't believe the downtown Wheaton area will ever get any more traction than it currently has due in part to the bad and continually getting worse downtown driving routes. Main street is largely avoided by many drivers and the preferred cut-through streets to avoid Main are being taken away one by one also - such as Adams taken over by the library and now Chase being eliminated at the tracks. The H-pattern traffic lights at Main and the tracks will never go away and are a Huge problem, with a capital H. The apartment building going in on Adams will bring more cars making downtown traffic even worse but will to some extent increase foot traffic to downtown businesses. Heading north, now that Main is down to two lanes when you hit a traffic light traffic backs up single file for blocks during the rush hours. Main Street is unforgiving and much north-south traffic has shifted to President making that a nightmare during rush hours.
Gregg Slapak August 23, 2012 at 12:12 AM
It's really not what "we think", Ms. Charlotte--it's long been "what the market will bear"!. Personally, (but that's looking back and not in-tune with my thinking, "FORWARD Wheaton") it would have been a real nice home for our wonderful Wheaton Drama Club! Soory,and from a realtor's pespective, the property, (for many reasons,[structually and economically]) has really become a mid-block "white elephant". Let's see what interested buyers havd\e in-mind!~
Kate Haeger August 23, 2012 at 02:33 AM
In Three Lakes, Wisc. a dedicated bunch of volunteers reclaimed the small theater in down and turned it into a jewel. The front part of the theater is a gallery which displays art from local and Wisc artists and then they show movies and bring in live entertainment at very very affordable prices. With a generous gift from a wonderful person they bought the building for about $250,000 3 years ago and now with donations and totally volunteer run it is thriving with donations continuing to come in from people that see the vision and love the spirit. This is what I would love to see in Wheaton and be a part of. Check out their web sight...and yes, I am involved in it up in Three Lakes. http://www.tlcfa.org/
Charlotte Eriksen (Editor) August 23, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Why? There are so many already..
Charlotte Eriksen (Editor) August 23, 2012 at 01:15 PM
That's cool
Chisti August 23, 2012 at 03:16 PM
The question was thoughts from the public-perhaps you are missing the point.
Jeff Pelletier August 23, 2012 at 04:18 PM
and you're missing imagination... Maybe a developer needs to be inspired too. They'll take what the people think and actually listen to these people that walk these street and are ready and willing to give good money for some kind any kind of theater experience.
Nancy Chovancek August 28, 2012 at 09:15 PM
I totally agree! It would be similar to the Arcada in St. Charles. On concert nights in that area, it's PACkED with people and could really help boost other small businesses in the area.
Linda phillabaum September 12, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I too, thought of a dance place. Lessons by day, music and dancing by night. I love Ms. Haegers suggestion! Sounds like a perfect fit. We need a place to hear good music and be able to dance and gather with friends, (adults, not teens)
Joe Fruzyna September 19, 2012 at 05:41 PM
It should become a MOVIE THEATRE!...how 'bout that!...I'd be really nice as a local resident to take the kids to a nice little theatre with a home town feel like the LAKE THEATRE in Oak Park, or even the Ogden or Glen Ellyn theatres. Someone with $$$ or connections PLEASE pull the trigger on this!
Skippy September 26, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I agree with the theater option (movies). Or just a big hole in the ground that will swallow that turd up and fill itself back in.
Suburban Music October 24, 2012 at 01:35 PM
We want a proper stage for recitals and concerts in town! We had to bring people to Bloomingdale because some pub there had the nearest stage for our Summer Rock Camp concert. We had standing-room only, and food & drinks were flowing all night! I would have loved to have kept that money in Wheaton!

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