"We have had numerous professional contractors look at the building over the last week and give us an evaluation of needed repairs," explained Stephen Sanfilippo, director of the gallery. "Unfortunately the issues they found within the structure and internal workings of the building are not good."
Their collective assessment was that repairs and upgrades would require many thousands of dollars before the building would be safe for occupancy.
"That, together with our short-term lease (month to month) has made ADAS re-think this opportunity," Sanfilippo said. "We have issued a letter back to Castle Management Co., letting them know our position and that we are returning the building back to them."
He said they had hoped the repairs would be cosmetic, as they were in their last location on Hartz Avenue, but this did not prove to be the case.
"Here we're dealing with quite a large structure, it's much older and it's been worked on over the years," said Sanfilippo. "The main thing was, the electrical system was in very bad condition."
The Pioneer Art Gallery was housed for the last year and a half at 524 Hartz Ave., courtesy of Brad Blake of BNP Ventures, who is planning to tear it down and build a new retail development.
The artists still have workspace upstairs in that location but Rakestraw Books relocated recently to the former gallery space on the ground floor.
Several weeks ago Tom Baldacci of Castle Companies & Danville Hotel Holding contracted a lease with the artists for the old Danville Hotel Restaurant and Saloon building, which is about 5,300 square feet and has been vacant for several years.
Baldacci's redevelopment plans for the downtown Danville Hotel complex, which spans from Railroad Avenue to Hartz, have been in the design stage for several years and meanwhile the property has begun to assume a neglected look. The artists were hoping to give the "charming landmark" a last chance to serve the community, said Tracy Bauer, publicity director of the Pioneer Art Gallery.
"This is a huge letdown for everyone in our group as you might imagine," Sanfilippo said.
Now ADAS members will keep looking around town for a location and talking to anyone who may have a lead.
"The search continues," said Sanfilippo.