The 90-year-old theater in Bridgeport may yet have another act.
The City of Chicago bought the old, Hollywood-style theatre back in 2001 for $285,000. Yesterday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported the city is giving the space to developing company One Revival Chicago LLC, who is going to pump $23 million into restoring the theatre to its former glory.
The Ramova’s doors haven’t opened for a screening since the 1980s and the renovation plans include an outdoor dining and seating area, which will involve another city-owned vacant lot adjacent to the theatre. It will also update the 1,500-seat single-screen theatre into an 1,800-seat live entertainment space.
The Spanish terracotta facade wrapping the auditorium could earn the theater a landmark designation, but it has suffered damage over the last few decades, costing the city nearly $364,000 on repairs.
Ald. Patrick Daley Thomson (11th) told the Sun-Times that “The theater has been a liability for the city, but it could really become something that’s positive.”
Together, the theater and the neighboring vacant lot have been appraised at $570,000 and the deal includes a city tax increment financing (TIF) subsidy of $6.64 million. However, the project would create 110 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs, according to the alderman.
Thompson said it’s the first time he’s used TIF money toward something that isn’t a public works project.
The initiative is led by Tyler Nevius, at WME-IMG, and the dining aspect led by Kevin Hickey, founder of The Duck Inn, another prized Bridgeport location. [Sun-Times] — Jacqueline Flynn