CHICAGO (CelebrityAccess) The City of Chicago has announced it is providing $75 million to revitalize the 93-year-old Uptown Theatre, a joint project between Jam Productions and Chicago-based real estate developer Farpoint.
The venue has been vacant for 35 years and the historic building will be restored and reopened as “the crown jewel of a revitalized Uptown entertainment district,” according to a statement. The announcement fulfills a commitment that Mayor Rahm Emanuel made in his first term.
“The Uptown Theater has been a staple of the Uptown neighborhood’s past, and will be a strong asset for the community’s future,” Mayor Emanuel said. “The restored theater will be the centerpiece of the new, revitalized Uptown entertainment district, giving residents and visitors another way to experience world-class culture and entertainment in one of the City’s most storied neighborhoods.”
The Uptown Theatre was designated a City of Chicago landmark in 1991 to preserve its exterior and interior from alteration and demolition. Restoration to the Spanish Revival-style building will include new elevators and concession stations, as well as new mechanical, electrical, plumbing and life-safety systems. There will be restored decorative finishes, new seats and a reconfigured floor space that will increase capacity from 4,100 to 5,800.
“We have assembled an all-star team with Farpoint Development to reopen the doors of one of the most amazing live entertainment palaces in the country,” Jam owner Jerry Mickelson said. “This opportunity represents more than just restoring a theatre since this rejuvenation will create an immense economic impact on Chicago’s North Side. The Uptown Theatre will be the catalyst to spur development in the Uptown Entertainment District that will help create jobs, attract restaurants along with commercial and retail establishments as well as other entertainment venues.”
The venue was the world’s largest theatre when it opened in 1925, according to the statement, and held events into the 1970s. The entertainment district, which includes the Aragon Ballroom and the Riviera Theatre, is expected to have a new pedestrian plaza, sculpture and a public stage.
“Farpoint Development could not be prouder than to partner with Jerry Mickelson and Jam Productions in the renovation of the Uptown Theater,” Farpoint founder Scott Goodman said. “Opportunities to restore architectural gems like the Uptown are rare. To be able to do it in a diverse and flourishing neighborhood like Uptown makes it that much more exciting.”
Planned City assistance for the theater restoration includes $14 million in PACE financing, $13 million in Tax Increment Financing and $3 million in Adopt-A-Landmark funds. The PACE funding is being made available through the State of Illinois’ Property Assessed Clean Energy Act, which enables building owners to make energy-related building improvements that are paid over time through special assessments on the property.
Additional funding sources are anticipated to include $30 million in equity and conventional financing, $10 million in Build Illinois Bond funding, and $8.7 million in federal tax credits.
Restoration is expected to be completed in 2020.