The City of Springfield has reached a deal to have the former Esquire Theater demolished.
The theater closed over a decade ago and the building has remained boarded up since then. That's despite sitting along a busy stretch of MacArthur Boulevard near South Grand. Alderman Joe McMenamin says the property's owner has agreed to tear down the building by spring. The city's ordinance to begin fining vacant property owners was a factor. He says the threat of fines also made potential buyers nervous:
"There's a great jeopardy to any buyer. So we've eliminated a complicating factor to any purchase agreement," McMenamin said.
Eventually, McMenamin says he'd like to see the space be used as a mix of residential housing and office space. The property could be eligible for tax increment financing... which would allow a developer to recoup some of their costs.
This is the second announcement this week about getting rid of a well known structure in the town. The owner of the Bel Aire Motel on South 6th Street has worked out a plan with the city to tear it down.