New life for deteriorating icon | April 17, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - April 17, 2009

New life for deteriorating icon

Pioneer Gallery moving into former Danville Hotel Restaurant

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The Pioneer Art Gallery has found a new home - the iconic red-and-white former Danville Hotel Restaurant that more recently housed Celia's Mexican Restaurant.

The gallery, run by the Alamo Danville Artists' Society, 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.

Last week Tom Baldacci of Castle Companies & Danville Hotel Holding contracted a lease with the artists for the old Danville Hotel and Saloon building, said Tracy Bauer, ADAS spokeswoman.

"This space has many more exterior and interior improvements needed than our previous gallery location had started with, so we're bracing for more time and costs before we can hang the 'open' sign," said Bauer.

The old Danville Hotel and Saloon building is about 5,300 square feet. Pioneer Art Gallery Executive Director Stephen Sanfilippo, a plein air artist, did a walk-through inspection Monday with Danville building inspector Mike Leontiades and principal planner Dave Crompton.

"They further assured us that subsequent visits and permit reviews would be expedited as a high priority," said Bauer. "The town really wants us to succeed; they appreciate the short-term life of the building, that we are a small nonprofit, and that this project has already proven itself to be a valuable asset to the downtown experience."

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.

"Sadly, the delays have left these vacant buildings to decline," noted Bauer. "The iconic, red-and-white Danville Hotel and Saloon building is now a particularly confusing patch of urban blight for residents and visitors.

"ADAS is proud to be able to ensure that this charming landmark will have a final chance to serve our community, and that it does not get forgotten in our local history."

Sanfilippo is planning to continue and improve upon the programs the community enjoyed before, such as the exhibits, art education, live music jams and student art shows.

Bauer also noted that ADAS is hoping for donations from the community to help it get the new gallery up and running.

"Our most immediate needs for the building rehab include roofing, painting and lighting (materials and labor). Looking ahead to day-to-day operations, we would be grateful for donations of a used laptop and printer, DSL+phone service, folding chairs/tables, bar-height stools, track lights (we dream of energy-efficient LED bulbs!) and a few sofas," she said.

ADAS has created a Web site to keep people informed about this latest venture:


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