LOSS: Ornate Reebie Company Warehouse Building Façade To Be Demolished

Originally Proposed Timeline Theater Design at Reebie Building, 5033 N. Broadway. Rendering Credit: HGA
Final Timeline Theater Design at Reebie Building, 5033 N. Broadway. Rendering Credit: HGA

“The Community Development Commission has approved $10 million in TIF funding for Timeline Theatre. Currently located in a church building in Lakeview East, the company is looking to build a new theater in an existing warehouse building at 5033 N. Broadway in Uptown. Located just north of W. Argyle St, the new theater will be just around the corner from the Argyle CTA L station.

“With a design from HGA, the project will redevelop the 1910s warehouse into the new home of Timeline Theatre Company. The front 2/3rds of the building will be demolished and replaced with the newly constructed theatre space. The back third will be renovated for back of house functions. The project will include a 250-seat theatre, rehearsal rooms, a gallery space, education/community rooms, a cafe, and offices.

“To achieve the $37.6 million project, funding will come from many sources including $8.5 million from a capital campaign, $14.2 million in a bridge loan, $10 million in TIF, $2.5 million in state grants, and $2.5 million in New Market Tax Credits.” (Kugler, Urbanize Chicago, 5/17/22)

Public funds should never be used to for the demolition of historic buildings, including TIF, city and state grants. In exchange for $10 million in TIF, the facade should have been preserved.

For years, Preservation Chicago has been committed to helping arts and cultural users find new homes in historic buildings. The synergy between creative uses and historic spaces is well documented and these developments often evolve into beloved neighborhood anchors.

We have strongly supported the renovation of historic theater spaces in Uptown such as the Uptown Theatre, The Riviera, and Aragon Ballroom. We strongly supported the Double Door’s renovation and reuse of the Wilson Avenue Theater. We have supported the Lifeline Theater coming to Uptown and adding to the vibrancy of this reemerging entertainment and performing arts district

We were elated in summer 2019 with the rendering released by TimeLine showing this building restored on its exterior primary elevation fronting Broadway, with a new vertical blade sign. It was an ideal fit for a theatre reuse concept, where large windows are really not required as part of the program of the theater. It was a creative and authentic revisioning project for one of Chicago’s historic storage buildings.

We were very disappointed by the more recent design changes, which include a complete demolition of the principal façade fronting Broadway. The powerful dynamism that comes from the authenticity of historic buildings is lost when the historic façade is demolished and replaced with a generic glass and metal system. So many creative options have been overlooked by abandoning the historic façade.

This decision seems surprising considering how hard the Uptown community has worked to revitalize the Broadway historic and entertainment district. We encouraged decision makers at Lifeline Theater, community groups, and 48th Ward Ald. Harry Osterman to find a creative way to embrace and incorporate the historic façade into the development plans.

With its beautifully crafted brickwork and detailing, the historic façade should have been retained and incorporated into the new development. The modernist screening proposed in the latest variations could be employed on the other elevations of the building to provide a ‘fresh image’ but without compromising the Broadway façade.

Read the full story at Urbanize Chicago

CDC approves $10 million in TIF for Timeline Theatre; A new theatre will be built at 5033 N. Broadway, Lukas Kugler, Urbanize Chicago, 5/17/22

TimeLine Theatre Pitches Plans To Move From Lakeview To Uptown, Renovate Warehouse Into Arts Center, The plan to move to a bigger space in Uptown and renovate the building at 5033 N. Broadway has been in the works since 2018, Joe Ward, Block Club Chicago, 6/16/21

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