DeKalb’s Egyptian Theatre nonprofit buys 2 neighboring downtown properties

Theater staff says purchases mark investment in local ownership and downtown business investment

Egyptian Theatre horizontal

DeKALB – The nonprofit organization behind the Egyptian Theatre in downtown DeKalb announced Friday that it has bought two properties at 143 and 147 N. Second St. next to the theater.

Officials said they don’t have immediate plans for the newly purchased properties previously owned by the DeKalb Theatre Co., which originally built the Egyptian Theatre in 1929.

The property changed hands in the 1930s and had been listed as commercial property since that time, according to a news release. It has been about 50 years since the two adjacent properties have been in use.

“We felt it was important for these properties to have local ownership,” Executive Director Alex Nerad said in a statement. “We have a terrific relationship with our neighbors on North Second Street, and we want to see their continued success.

“With the continued excitement and investment in downtown DeKalb, we felt it was important for the future of the Egyptian Theatre to have a say in what happens with these neighboring properties.”

Staff at the Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St, said they look forward to running the properties under their current purpose. One of the properties at 143 N. Second St. houses Thrivent Financial, a longtime sponsor of the theater, according to a news release.

Shaw Media also is a sponsor of the Egyptian Theatre.

Shawn Blobaum of Thrivent Financial said he’s pleased to hear that his business will be in good hands.

“As a neighbor to the Egyptian Theatre for 15 years, I was thrilled to hear that they are our new landlords,” Blobaum said in a statement. “We have had a great working relationship with them and feel reassured that they will continue to keep our block of businesses viable, accessible and thriving.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, which dealt a blow to the arts and entertainment industry nationally and to the Egyptian Theatre locally, as it had to close for 15 months, weighed heavy in the theater’s decision to purchase the neighboring properties, officials said.

Nerad said that acquiring these properties shows the theater’s resilience to adversity.

“It underscored the critical importance of revenue diversification to strengthen the financial stability and future success of the Egyptian Theatre,” Nerad said in a statement. “This property acquisition provides yet another element to secure future growth of the theater for our community.”

The Egyptian Theatre is widely known in the region, as it hosts more than 42,000 visitors every year for a variety of programming, including touring shows and movies. It also is where more than 30 community organizations hold their events, according to a news release.

Dan Schewe, a donor and board president for the Egyptian Theatre, said theater leadership felt it couldn’t pass up the opportunity to acquire these properties.

“This opportunity was one that we felt we had to pursue,” Schewe said in a statement. “This purchase is another step in securing our mission for future generations and supporting our ongoing commitment to preserving and enhancing the cultural landscape of downtown DeKalb.

“Donors and patrons of the Egyptian Theatre can look forward to an exciting and promising future, as our commitment to a brighter and stronger theater remains unwavering.”

No taxpayer dollars are being used for the purchase, according to the release. Instead, the theater announced it is paying for the purchase through FNBO in DeKalb.

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