Coronado Corner readies to brighten downtown Main Street

Completion of $450,000 renovation expected in August

Corner includes plasma TVs and speakers to educate passersby about history of Coronado

Turning the corner after the completion of the $18 million Coronado Theatre renovation, Friends of the Coronado has found a new project: next door.

Friends of the Coronado have almost completed renovations on the new Coronado Corner at Main Street and Park Avenue. With the splendid success of the theater’s renovations, Friends of the Coronado hope renovating the adjacent corner will enhance the landmark theater and downtown area.

The previous location of Jackson Piano, Coronado Corner will be the perfect location.

“The Corner will become a marketing and promotional arm of the Coronado Theatre,” said Patrick O’Keefe, former vice president and co-chairman of the Coronado Corner project at Friends of the Coronado.

The Corner will serve as an extension of the Coronado to give passersby a look into the theater and its history. Inside will be exhibits of the history of the Coronado Theatre, a gift shop with merchandise, information about shows and weekly tours of the theater.

The corner will also engage anyone walking by the facility. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people walk by the corner on a performance night, not including those who see it every day.

The corner will have plasma TVs and speakers that will engage people on the street with history and information. The very visual street displays and information will encourage the public to take a deeper look into the Coronado and into Rockford. O’Keefe said he hopes this will engage anyone walking by to take interest in the theater and come back for future performances.

“[The display] we’ve designed is very aggressive and in-your-face,” said O’Keefe.

Ticket sales within the theater industry recently changed. The new trend has shown many people have begun to shy away from buying subscription tickets. Instead, single tickets to individual performances have become more popular, since theater-goers can choose which events fit with their schedules.

The Coronado Corner will help accommodate the change in theater enthusiasts’ tastes and buying habits by offering a more central location to buy tickets from, and to get information about future performances.

Approximately $450,000 has been raised for the Coronado Corner project, which will be completed in August. The City of Rockford has donated $150,000, the Convention and Visitors Bureau has donated $77,000, and the rest of the money has come from private donations. The renovations are being completed by Sjostrom & Sons Construction. More than 5,500 have donated to the renovation of the Coronado Theatre and Corner.

O’Keefe said he believes this shows just how important a landmark like the Coronado has been to Rockford. He said the preservation of the facility and the education and outreach have been their goals in the renovations.

The project began in March, but has been delayed by some very special parts coming from Germany. The ceiling of the facility will replicate the inside of the Coronado Theatre, including the famous canopy of clouds. The special material the ceiling is made of, a type of wire mesh, will make Rockford unique.

“It will be the only place in Illinois that will have it,” said O’Keefe. “We’re really excited to see this contemporary cloud structure.”

Friends of the Coronado recently finished the $18 million remodeling of the Coronado Theatre. The Friends were founded after the Coronado Theatre was donated to the City of Rockford by the Kerasotes Family in 1997. Since then, the project has rejuvenated the theater and brought new life to the downtown Rockford area.

“So much of downtown is dark,” said O’Keefe. “We really want to provide something that’s light.”

From the July 26-Aug. 1, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!