Opera Building Coming Down, Future Still Looking Up

Local News

Canton’s historic Opera Building is coming down.

The fate of the building has been in question since it was heavily damaged in a deadly explosion that killed an Ameren worker last November, forcing the businesses inside to leave. 

Last month the building’s owner, Kert Huber, offered to donate the building to the city along with $200,000, with the hope of moving somebody new into the space. That offer was denied by the city due to a lack of interest in development.

The Spoon River Partnership for Economic Development says too much work would have to go into the building to make it safe again, and developers weren’t guaranteed that those businesses would come back.

Several people say they’re sad to see the building fall, but others say the future is still looking up.

“We’ll explore some grant opportunities, we’ll talk to other private developers who maybe wanted a location downtown, but there wasn’t the anchorage available to do that, so we’ll explore some things that have come up in the past that didn’t work,” said Missy Towery with the partnership.

Huber wasn’t available to talk on camera Monday but in a statement said:

“It seems we have exhausted all avenues to save the building… We will begin parts salvage on Monday with demolition scheduled around the middle of the month.”

State Representative Mike Unes and State Senator Dave Koehler also tried to save the building, but nothing came through.

The city is planning to hold a grand re-opening for the downtown this Saturday.

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