Lorraine Foundation sells Willdon Building to Sculpt Fitness owners | News

The Lorraine Foundation recently announced the sale of the Willdon Building.

The announcement, posted on the foundation’s Facebook page April 9, is printed below:

“The Lorraine Foundation has spearheaded multiple economic & restoration projects including the Little Lorraine, Old City Hall, Sewing Boutique (Now” Stay Awhile “), 402 E Main clean-up (old gas station East of Lorraine), but our most impressive, second only to the Lorraine itself, has been the revitalization of the Willdon Building.

Today a new chapter begins for the Willdon Building. After being vacant for nearly 13 years, the Lorraine Foundation reopened its doors only six months after taking possession in January of 2017. We’ve had a significant amount of help to make Willdon plans a reality but none more critical than the investment Sculpt Fitness provided as the building’s anchor tenant. Without Sculpt’s partnership the project would not have been possible. We’re happy to share that Sculpt Fitness is taking their investment to the next level by assuming ownership and responsibility for the building itself. The Sculpt Team, doing business as Willdon Development LLC, have purchased the Willdon Building to expand their business and continue restoration efforts for future expansion on the upper floors.

Private investment has brought exciting new development and growth to Downtown Hoopeston. Now is the perfect time for our organization to continue stepping back from these additional projects to better focus on our core mission of the Lorraine Theater’s restoration and entertainment. We sincerely thank all who have had a part in the Willdon Building’s revitalization. Best of luck and thank you to Sculpt Fitness & the new Willdon Development business! “

The Chronicle spoke with Lorraine Foundation President Alex Houmes on Monday about the sale and the foundation’s plans going forward.

“We’ve been wanting to kind of consolidate our efforts to focus more on the Lorraine business, the Little Lorraine and the Lorraine Theater, and kind of scale back some of these economic development projects we’ve gotten into,” he said.

Houmes said the foundation first got involved with these economic development because it felt that helping with these efforts would help the Lorraine succeed in the future.

“The Lorraine’s not going to be a success if Hoopeston isn’t a success or, more specifically, downtown, because when we first started eight or 10 year ago, the future didn’t look as bright as it does now. There wasn’t as much new activity or development going on. We felt like, even though it was going to take time away from the Lorraine project, that some of these other opportunities that we saw that we could get involved with downtown, we felt like that’s what we needed to do.

One of those opportunities was the Willdon Building.

“The Willdon Building was a major part of that effort,” Houmes said. “Now that we’re seeing other people getting involved with downtown and private investment bringing new businesses and new development that we could finally scale back those economic projects and go back to focusing more on the theater.”

Houmes said the foundation had mentioned to Sculpt Fitness owners Kasey Moore and Rachel Fenner, that they were thinking about selling the building and encouraged them to think about how they wanted to proceed.

“I know they put a lot of thought into it and once we finally listed it for sale they decided that’s what they wanted to do and they wanted to continue what we started, with not only expanding their business, they liked the idea of ​​how we were utilizing the upper floors and how they want to do something similar, at least as their initial thought. “

Houmes said it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

“It’s a win-win for us because we couldn’t have done it without their help to begin with,” he said. “They’ve invested a lot of their time and money into the building already and to have them get the opportunity to buy it and run with it is the best case scenario for us. Especially since they’re local people. That was a key part when we were trying to partner with somebody. Instead of just selling the building off we wanted to find someone who we could partner with that would take care of it the way we want it to be taken care of it rather than just unloading it. “

Houmes added that the Willdon Building always paid for itself, so the foundation never had to take money away from projects at the Lorraine to do projects at the Willdon Building.

“That was a rule of ours when we started, we’ve never taken donations that went to the Lorraine or to the entertainment side of the foundation to be used on the Willdon itself,” he said. “It’s been very independent and we’ve been lucky that it has been.”

Houmes said the sale of the Willdon Building will put some extra money in the foundation’s coffers to help the entertainers they have coming to the Lorraine as well as free up more time for the foundation to pursue other projects related to the Lorraine.

Asked about the immediate plans for the Lorraine, Houmes said the foundation is in the midst of celebrating the theater’s 100th anniversary with a variety of different events planned throughout the year.

While there have been several small community events already this year, Houmes said the foundation has been focused on bringing in quality entertainment acts to perform at the Lorraine on a monthly basis.

“This is the first year since owning the Lorraine that we’ve actually had an event lined up and scheduled and planned for every month as well as some side events and we continue to operate the Little Lorraine,” he said.

First and foremost, Houmes said, the foundation is focused on utilizing the progress they have made thus far with the theater.

He estimated that the foundation is a little over halfway through their planned renovation projects for the theater.

“We want to make sure we’re utilizing that space and setting up the Lorraine to be as financially independent as possible so that when we apply for these grants it goes towards things that are more permanent and substantial rather than just trying to stay afloat, Houmes said. “Instead of just paying utility bills, we’re looking to add more to the theater.”

The first step in this process, he said, is bringing in more quality entertainment and the next step is deciding which way they want to go regarding bringing movies back to the Lorraine.

“We’re researching bringing movies back,” he said. “We all want to have movies again and I know the community wants us to show first-run movies again, but the movie business is just a very difficult thing to navigate right now.”

He said the foundation needs to do a lot more research on first-run movies to see when they could phase that in.

“We can’t spend all that money right away and not have it carry itself,” Houmes said.

The theater itself still requires more work as well.

“Even though we’ve made a lot of progress for our facilities in what we’re able to do as far as hosting entertainment but there’s just a ton more of equipment we need to buy,” he said.

Houmes said they’re looking into grants and looking into adding a green room space towards the back of the theater to accommodate some of the entertainment acts they want to bring to the theater.

“We’re finding some of these big-name entertainers not only want it, but require it in their contract before we can even get them,” he said. “All of those things all need to happen and they can’t happen as fast if we’re also doing that on top of these economic development projects. Passing that on to the Willdon Development Business allows us to look into all of those things that I just mentioned. “

Houmes said the foundation was happy with how the sale of the Willdon Building was handled.

“We’re really happy with how it worked out,” he said. “All the support we’ve gotten over the years to support the Lorraine to begin with and then for it to end with Kasey and Rachel getting the opportunity to buy it and continue our efforts is the best case scenario for us. We’re pretty happy with how it worked out. “


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