Chicago loves the Congress Theater. Even though life at 2136 North Milwaukee Avenue has been full of ups and downs, and mostly “downs” lately, there remains a dedicated cheering section for the building that never seems to give up hope that it can once again be returned to grandeur. It’s a fan base that extends well beyond the theater’s home neighborhood of Logan Square.
The Congress Theater closed in April of 2013 and rapidly became a concern to the neighborhood. Chicago has an abundance of abandoned neighborhood theaters which have become eyesores, and worse.
This past January, First Ward Alderman Proco Joe Moreno took us on a tour of the dilapidated facility and announced that an investor had been found, and a rehabilitation plan was being put together. That investor is Michael Moyer, whom you may know from such projects as the Loop’s Cadillac Palace Theater.
The plan, drawn up by Woodhouse Tinucci Architects is finally a reality. It’s actually on paper. And not on paper in some filing cabinet being forgotten — it’s actually been filed with the city as a real project, ready to become a reality. So here are the details:
The theater portion of the building will be saved and continue to be used as a theater. The retail space will continue to be retail space. You may not know it, but the theater building does contain residences. What happens to those residences is a bit up in the air, so the developer has asked for permission from the city to turn that space either into 32 residences, or 50 hotel rooms.
The vacant lot across Rockwell Street is also part of this project and will see the biggest change, as the developer plans to plant a 10-story building there with 120 residences and ground floor commercial space.
It’s an ambitious project, but now may be the right time for it. After all, Logan Square hasn’t been this hot a market in a long time, so hopefully construction will begin soon after the city grants its approvals. That part, however, could take a few months, so don’t start lining up for concert tickets just yet.
Here’s the firehose:
- Address: 2117 North Milwaukee Avenue
- Address: 2117 North Rockwell Street
- Address: 2120 North Rockwell Street
- Developer: New Congress LLC
- For realsies: Michael Moyer
- Architecture firm: Woodhouse Tinucci Architects
- Hotel rooms permitted: 50
- Residences permitted: Up to 184
- Affordable housing: 18 units
- Net site area: 73,919 square feet
- Floor Area Ratio: 2.95 (1.86 theater building, 7.10 residential high rise)
- Parking: none
- Maximum height: 77.75 theater building, 114.5 residential high rise