Last week's collapse of the Bank of Elmwood brought some attention back to the Imaginarium, the ill-fated children's museum planned for Downtown Racine.
The $4.6 million project planned for the former Zahn's department store fell apart in 2001 after six years of work. Children raised over 2 million pennies for the museum.
Bukacek Construction stopped work on the museum in 2000 after the Imaginarium board ran out of money. But the board countered that Bukacek was paid for more work than it actually did.
The project got further complicated when Tony Gazzana left after leading fundraising efforts for the museum. Gazzana was paid $32,000 after helping to raise $417,000. Bukaceck claimed the museum should have paid for construction before it paid Gazzana.
The project wound up in court, and by 2003, Bank of Elmwood was seeking a new buyer for the building.
We never really got a full explanation of why the Imaginarium, which was so full of promise dating back to 1995, collapsed.
Here's a summary of JT articles on the children's museum that never was:
1995 - Plans announced for a children's museum in the former Zahn's Department store on Monument Square.
1996 - Go-cart races eyed as Imaginarium fundraiser.
1996 - Imaginarium board lays out long-term plan.
1996 - Rally for Imaginarium at Regency Mall.
1997 - Penny drive underway.
1997 - Imaginarium penny drive hits 1 million.
1997 - Bukaceck under contract for museum.
2000 - Renewed fundraising campaign launched.
2000 - Construction put on hold.
2000 - Bukacek remains intent on building Imaginarium.
2000 - Imaginarium works on a new plan.
2000 - YouthALIVE drives Imaginarium.
2001 - Imaginarium board, Bukacek fight over money.
2001 - Museum seeks new developer.
2001 - Gazzana paid $32,000 for Imaginarium work.
2001 - Imaginarium claims Bukacek was overpaid.
2001 - Museum ends up in court.
2003 - Bank of Elmwood seeks new buyer for Zahn's building.