Effort to reopen art gallery site returns

A group wants to repurpose the former Adams Art Gallery in Dunkirk into an events space and youth center called Central Hall. This drawing from the group’s website shows what the landmark might look like if the project is successful.

There’s a fundraising drive underway for an initiative to reimagine the former Adams Art Gallery in Dunkirk.

A 2018-19 effort to repurpose the site into a concert and events space, called the Adams, lost traction when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

However, William Haskas, an architect who helped lead the push five years ago, is back as executive director of a new group featuring some prominent local names.

Instead of the Adams, this group wants to call it Central Hall. It is still envisioned as an events space, according to a brochure shared with the OBSERVER.

“Central Hall is a project that aims to renovate a historic building into a multi-purpose space that offers public programming, event and rental services, and youth development,” the brochure states.

The project has apparently bubbled on behind the scenes, because it was nominated for some of Dunkirk’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) money. There’s still no public word from Albany on which projects will get funding.

The brochure focuses on the DRI tie. “The NYS DRI mandate goal is $150,000 in matching funds. We need to raise $150K by Aug. 16… to secure the anticipated $1.3 (million) for Phase 1 renovations,” it states.

Here’s some more: “Central Hall is a phoenix rising from the ashes… Imagine weddings, performances, and more, all hosted in one magnificent location. Our operations may be temporarily on hold, but our commitment to the community remains steadfast.”

The Central Hall working group has 12 members listed on its brochure. Fredonia Mayor Michael Ferguson, Chautauqua County Legislator Susan Parker, Dunkirk Councilman-at-Large Nick Weiser, and former Fredonia Mayor Steve Keefe are four of the members. Michael Civiletto, an ex-city councilperson involved in the 2018-19 effort, is also part of the group.

The group has a website, www.centralhallcc.org. It states that $25,000 has already been raised. The site also mentions a partnership with Kids at Promise, a Dunkirk afterschool activities organization.

“The hall will offer an assortment of services, including public events, rental options, youth programs, and even upscale living spaces,” according to one page on the site.

The Central Hall flier envisions “weddings, receptions, performances, education, life skills, and a youth oriented athletic center.”

Back on the website, a proposed timeline for construction is laid out.

The building badly needs a new roof and that’s envisioned for the third quarter of this year. Interior demolition is also proposed for that time frame.

New boilers and interior carpentry work would go in during the fourth quarter. In the first quarter of 2025, it’s “floors, walls and ceilings, interior finishes (and) plumbing.”

More work of that nature, plus heating and lighting installation, would happen in the second quarter of ’25.

It’s hoped the new Central Hall can open in July or August 2025.


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