CROWN POINT — The new owner of the Crown Theater hopes the arts he brings to the long-vacant building will make it vibrant again.
Those fresh activities also are expected to enrich the downtown square and add to its growing street life.
Crown Theater's new owner, Brad Strom, previously worked for the now-shuttered Star Plaza Theatre. His plan is to fill the entertainment void left in the Region when that venue closed in December.
"We are a great addition to what the square already has to offer," Strom said. "There is no telling what this can do."
Strom's plans for Crown Theater include making it a venue for comedy, small concerts and live theater including for children, and a place to screen independent films.
He said it is hard to gauge what the economic impact will be, but he is confident it will be great for the square.
"We are not coming in and stepping on anyone’s toes," he said. "We are not a bar, we are not a restaurant. This is the missing piece to the square's puzzle."
Local restaurant owners 'should be thrilled'
Speros A. Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, said when it is time for Strom to start promoting in the community and to bring in visitors, "we'll be there."
"We are excited for Brad," he said. "I wish him all the success possible. That place has been not only an eyesore, but its vacancy (also) has thwarted the economic opportunities that abound on the square. If I was a restaurant owner in downtown Crown Point, I'd be thrilled.
Just a few months ago, Chris Pappas opened Provecho Latin Provisions in the former Tequila Restaurante building on the east side of the square.
"We welcome Brad with open arms to the downtown square," Pappas said. "We are happy that this landmark piece in our square found an owner that can take advantage of its full potential."
Pappas said there is excitement in having another property on the square redeveloped for the benefit of making the community a more diverse and better place to call home.
"We will be here to support Brad in any way possible," he said.
Carrie Napoleon, spokeswoman for the Lake Court House Foundation, said she is excited to see the empty building next to the historic Lake County Courthouse get a new life. She said the influx of more people downtown to see shows at Crown Theater will be a benefit to the businesses and restaurants on the lower level Courthouse Shops and around the square.
"There has been a lot of work on the businesses and facades on the east side of the square," she said. "Having a long-vacant building like the theater come back to life will hopefully spur more improvements on the west side of the square so it is equally inviting."
Dinner package and brewery tour partnerships?