September 2019 Update:
$40 million of the $80 million project for restoring Uptown Theatre has already been raised, and fundraising for the remaining $40 million is ongoing. The owner plans to start construction in early 2020 if at least half of the remainder- $20 million, is secured. With this construction underway early next year, Uptown Theatre hopes to have it’s first show in early 2021.
Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and I, along with JAM Productions, announced plans to fully restore the Uptown Theatre. Vacant since 1981, this 93-year-old building with 4,381 seats has an interior volume said to be larger than any other movie palace in the United States, including Radio City Music Hall in New York. So many of us who love this magnificent treasure on Chicago’s north side have been waiting patiently to see it return as the breathtaking spectacle that its architects, Balaban and Katz, intended.
In 2001, the Lawrence Broadway TIF was created specifically to assist with this needed restoration. As soon as the Uptown Theatre became part of my ward after redistricting, I immediately began working with JAM Productions and Mayor Emanuel to find a way to restore this gem. Since then, I have fought to build the needed infrastructure to make this project happen. I pushed for our recent $6 million streetscaping in that area and worked with Uptown United to attract interesting businesses with an entertainment focus, all done with the goal of giving investors the necessary confidence to proceed with the theater’s restoration.
The renovation of the Uptown Theatre will cement Uptown’s Entertainment District as an internationally known destination while creating needed jobs in our community. In addition to the construction jobs for this $75 million rehab, there also will be a huge economic boom for the neighboring businesses, which will benefit workers and families in our community. This project will change the landscape of the Uptown neighborhood. The construction will be inconvenient at times, but I assure you that I will continue my constant communication and receive your feedback in order to make this historic renovation move forward as smoothly as possible.
This will be the news of the year for the 46th Ward. That said, there is still some heavy lifting that I must do before we get to the day when there is a ribbon-cutting for the Uptown Theatre’s grand opening in a few years. The State of Illinois recently allocated $10 million for this project. I will be asking my colleagues in City Council to support allocation of the $13 million TIF that’s needed to make this happen, and there are still many plans that need to be finalized.
A special thanks to all of you who shared this dream to make the rehab of the Uptown Theatre a reality. I am so honored to play a role by fighting on your behalf to make this happen.