ROCK ISLAND -- Transforming the former Hyman's Furniture building into The Stern Center was a labor of love.|
"We wanted to invest in Rock Island. We believe in the city," director Michael Stern said, adding that they didn't want to see "another beautiful building empty."
About $600,000 to $700,000 was spent to buy and renovate the 20,000-square-feet building at 1713 3rd Ave.
Renovations include new heating and air conditioning, lighting, plumbing, bathrooms and a catering kitchen.
Mr. Stern's brother, Matt, bought the building in 2011, which also is when renovations began.
The building once housed McCabe's Department Store. Stanley Goldman bought the building in 1986 and it became Hyman's Furniture's central location in 1992.
The Goldman family ran Hyman's Furniture in Rock Island for 90 years until Mr. Goldman retired in December 2010.
A public grand opening and ribbon cutting for The Stern Center will be at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, before the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce holds its Schmooza Palooza event there from 5 to 9 p.m.
Mr. Stern said most of the renovations were completed about two months ago, and people began renting the space for events this spring.
So far, about 30 events have been held at The Stern Center, including weddings, quinceaneras and other parties. The event space's capacity is 800 people.
"Our jewel is that chandelier," Mr. Stern said, referring to a 900-pound antique chandelier that is 10-by-5 1/2 feet.
He said he's"already booking out" for Saturday weddings in 2013. The dominant color in the event space, which has a 20-foot ceiling, is white with touches of cream and light gray.
Mr. Stern said he wanted "the bride's colors to be the focal point." The center has lighting that can be used to make the white pillars in the event space match the wedding colors.
A bridal suite and a groom's room are in the works in the basement, where the bride and groom can get ready for their big day.
McCabe's old candy corner and soda bar, on the mezzanine level, were preserved.
For now, Mr. Stern doesn't have a staff, but will be hiring in 2013.
Nearby, a nonprofit incubator, called Under One Roof, is at The Center Building, 208 18th St., which Mr. Stern's brother also owns.
Mr. Stern said they are seeking nonprofits to move into it. Heart of Hope Ministries is there, with room for up to 30 nonprofits to have low-rent offices on the second-floor space.
"It's another way to give back to the Rock Island area," he said.
Great River Studios eventually will move from The Center Building to the third floor of The Stern Center. Mr. Stern said there are no set plans for the second floor of The Stern Center at this point.
The center's website is sterncenter.biz, and the phone number is (309) 314-3372.
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