SOUTH SHORE — The developer behind a planned entertainment center along the 71st Street corridor is “crossing [her] fingers” it can still be completed by November 2020.
Financing is the only thing delaying the demolition of the site and construction of a 50,000 square-foot complex with a dine-in movie theater, a bowling alley and event space in its place, said Alisa Starks, owner of Inner City Entertainment.
The former Urban Partnership Bank building at 7054 S. Jeffery Blvd. will be demolished to make way for the entertainment complex.
Lenders have committed to the project, she said, but the federal government shutdown last winter delayed Starks from receiving New Market Tax Credit funding.
“I’d been on hold for seven months waiting for the allocations to be awarded,” she said. “Financing wasn’t a barrier, it’s just the type of financing got delayed.”
Starks said the low-interest federal program is crucial to the project and others like it in “neglected and underserved communities.”
“When you’re working in these communities, every penny counts,” she said. “Getting the right financing makes a lot of difference.”
In addition to the entertainment options, the development plans to include a Creole restaurant and a full kitchen to be used by caterers.
Inner City Entertainment has developed theaters in Chatham and Lawndale. But the South Shore project will be the company’s smallest, densest project yet, Starks said.
The development is “rightsized for the community,” she said. “To be able to pack in all this excitement, fun and great food is amazing.”
Starks said the project should generate about 100 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs, most of which will be part-time.
After more than four years, Starks said she understands South Shore residents are anxious to see some movement on the project. She’s a resident herself who serves as treasurer of the Jackson Park Highlands Association.
Starks assured neighbors that “this is a real project” and that besides financing, the development is “completely shovel-ready.”
“Our community has been hungry for this and desperate for change along the 71st Street corridor,” Starks said. “It’s been a long time, but concepts take a long time to gel.”
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
A spokesman for the city’s Department of Planning and Development also did not respond to questions.
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