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Time is Running out for Esquire Theatre

Updated: Friday, July 25 2014, 11:21 PM CDT

Time is running out for the owners of the Esquire Theatre to make a decision on what to do with the property.

The building has been empty for 12 year. Now the property is on the city's fix-or-demolish list.

The deadline is this fall.

If AMC Theaters hasn't sold the property by November,

The owners will have to make one of three choices: demolish it, renovate it, or come up with an improvement plan.

Otherwise, they'll be faced with hefty fines.

Neighboring business owners say MacCarthur Boulevard is the heart of Springfield, and they're ready to see the theatre go.

"It's an eye sore," said Jenny McClanahan, owner of Gymnastics Zone.

The Esquire Theatre sits directly in front of the parking lot for Gymnastics Zone.

"We have so much traffic that goes on over here. Characters...shady characters. I would like to see something a little bit safer since we're a kid-oriented business as well," McClanahan said.

Robert Longcore owns PC Electronics right next door to the Esquire Theatre and says, he's fed up, too.

"There's no activity there. Only gang graffiti on the building and maybe an occasional broken window or open door. That's all we see from it and weeds overgrown in the back," said Longcore.

Alderman Joe McMenamin says there's increasing interest from developers wishing to buy the property.

"I think we all want to make sure something really positive, forward-thinking, attractive, and can meet a variety of needs goes into that site," McMenamin said.

For McMenamin, that means a mix of residential and retail.

"It takes people to shop and when theres more people, you have more shoppers, and when you have more shoppers, that's good for the shops, and that's good for tax revenue and that's good for the community," McMenamin said.

But Longcore and McClanahan say they would like to see the property redeveloped into a space that's strictly retail.

"A family-friendly business, pizza place, kids shopping, clothes shopping place," McClanahan said.

"We'd like to see a business come in there, or even demolished, or anything other than what we have right now," Longcore said.

We reached out to AMC Theatres for comment on this issue, they're still working on getting an answer for us.

Alderman Joe McMenamin tells us he is working on forming an advisory council for the developments along MacCarthur that use TIF money, like the Esquire Theatre.

Time is Running out for Esquire Theatre

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