Coming soon: Public Access to 1 W. Downer Pl.
Public Access, a new coffee shop, arcade, and art gallery is coming soon to 1 W. Downer Pl.
Public Access is the dreamchild of Mike Mancuso, who runs the Aurora headquarters of The Yetee, an online t-shirt company he co-owns with Canadian artist Glen O’Neill. Mancuso is working with Jenni and Marcus Contaldo of Modest Coffee, a local coffee company that roasts out of West Chicago.
Since opening The Yetee in 2011, Mancuso has moved the location from the basement of the Graham Building on Stolp Avenue to a warehouse at 110 Cross St. The t-shirt company now prints their own t-shirts and employees about a dozen locals including a few artists who are well-known in the downtown arts scene.
Mancuso also hosted art shows in the ground-floor gallery of The Yetee during several First Fridays and on special occasions. Due to the growth of his t-shirt business, Mancuso has been looking to move the gallery elsewhere in downtown along with the dozens of arcade games he’s been collecting over the last five years.
The other player in this game is Kevin Fitzpatrick, who owns the warehouse where The Yetee is located. Fitzpatrick purchased it a year or two ago when The Yetee was already a tenant along with the adjacent building where Mausoleum Gallery is located.
Fitzpatrick, who is a big supporter of downtown revitalization, recently purchased the building at 1 W. Downer Pl. at the northwest corner of Downer Place and Stolp Avenue and agreed to lease it to Mancuso.
“The building was filled with junk, and it was not aesthetically pleasing. We are gutting the entire building, putting on a new roof, freshening up the exterior,” Mancuso, of Oswego, said.
Mancuso and the Contaldos also both applied for and received grant money from Aurora Downtown, an organization of downtown business and property owners, to grow Public Access.
“We will be using the money to renovate the neglected building at 1 W. Downer,” he said.
“Things are progressing. There was an overwhelming amount of clutter and junk left by the previous owners. We are in the process of meeting with structural engineers to make sure that the building is sound. Years of neglect really shows once we are down to bare bones. But we are going to give the corner the beautiful building it deserves,” he added.
They are working with Vara Design on the interior designs for the building. Mancuso is already talking about expanding into the old Colorlab building next door on Stolp Avenue.
As far as opening, Mancuso has plans to be part of “Party On! 25 Years of Wayne’s World,” a celebration that kicks off on First Fridays in February 2017, with an art show titled “Waynestock.”
Public Access is sure to be a destination and that is most excellent.