The rehabilitation of the historic Uptown Theatre in Uptown and the Congress Theater in Logan Square would be supported through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) proposals introduced today to City Council by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Uptown Theatre, 4816 N. Broadway
The $75 million project by Jam Productions and Fairpoint Development would be funded with up to $13 million in TIF to help pay for costs involving the installation of new seats, a reconfigured main floor to increase capacity to 5,800 people, restored finishes, new elevators, modern concession stands, and updated mechanical systems. With “an acre of seats” served by three separate lobbies, the Spanish Revival-style structure was the world’s largest theater building when it opened in 1925 at 4816 N. Broadway. Designed by architects Rapp and Rapp for operator Balaban and Katz Corp., the Uptown was used for stage shows, movies and special events into the 1970s, when it was primarily used for touring musical acts. Since closing to the public in 1981, the building’s interior spaces have been periodically used for film productions. A 31,000-square-foot, City-owned parking lot across from the theatre at 1130 W. Lawrence Ave. would be sold for $1 for parking. The project is expected to generate up to 195 full- and part-time jobs and over 200 construction jobs.
Additional City support would include a Class L property tax incentive and $3 million in Adopt-a-Landmark Funds, which come from bonus fees paid by downtown developers. The Class L incentive, which encourages the preservation and rehabilitation of landmark structures, would reduce property taxes on the building by $2.2 million over the next 12 years.
Congress Theater, 2100 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The $69.2 million project by New Congress LLC would utilize up to $9.65 million in TIF to restore the multi-purpose structure into a 4,500-seat music venue, a 30-room boutique hotel, 14 affordable apartments, and 16,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. A 72-unit residential building would also be built on a vacant lot across Rockwell Street. A minimum of 30 percent of the apartments would be set aside as affordable rental units under the City’s Milwaukee Corridor Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) Pilot Program. The rehabilitated and news spaces would create up to 75 permanent and 250 temporary jobs.
Designed as a movie palace in 1926 by Fridstein & Co., the Italian Renaissance- and Classical Revival-style complex was designated a Chicago landmark in 2002 and named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017. It closed in 2013.
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