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The Telegraph

Firm agrees to renovate Wildey Theatre

The Telegraph
December 13, 2007 - 6:53PM

EDWARDSVILLE Developers and architects will spend the next year resurrecting the historic Wildey Theatre, bringing in new tenants and redeveloping the theater into a multi-use space, the mayor said at a news conference Thursday.

Lloyd and Bennett LLC of St. Louis has taken on the task abandoned by others before them of revitalizing the dilapidated entertainment venue in Downtown Edwardsville and bringing it back to life.

City officials have entered into a development review agreement with developers Stanley L. Hoffman and Mathew B. Librach of Lloyd and Bennett. Hoffman and Librach have a "due diligence period" of 180 days, which began Nov. 1, to "perform physical inspections and tests, to evaluate engineering and environmental reports, financial studies, utility agreements and zoning requirements, among other typical matters related to due diligence for property acquisition."

Their plan is to bring new tenants to the building, as several spaces will be made available for lease for retail or office use.

"The most important thing is to get good tenants here, and the building will run itself," Hoffman said. "We don't want it to be a city center or community center."

Instead, Hoffman and Librach would like to see private businesses that serve the area take over space in the Wildey building.

The second and third floors will be renovated for "cultural or creative-type users and professional office users, such as architectural, engineering and legal firms," Edwardsville Mayor Gary D. Niebur said in a news release.

Two other spaces also will be created for retail or office use, and the former theater would be converted into a "multi-use space for movies, theater productions, speeches, television production and other uses and/or events of cultural and community interest."

Hoffman said he envisions a "history museum" of the Wildey Theatre, with display cases of memorabilia collected over the years.

"There's such a history to this; stories just start to come out," Librach said. "We want all of that. It's a very important part of this process."

In the next four to six months, Hoffman and Librach plan to secure future tenants as they continue to "investigate" what renovations are needed, Librach said.  When the due diligence period is up, he guessed construction would take about a year.

"We want to figure out how we can display all of this history memorabilia that people have been collecting," he said.

It seems that almost everyone has memories of the Wildey Theatre.  City Administrator Ben Dickmann said his uncle worked in the projection room and his aunt sold tickets.

"A lot of memories coming here as a boy," he said.

Dickmann is one of the many people excited about the theater's restoration.

"I'm very optimistic," he said.  "If anybody can, (Hoffman and Libach) can do it."