UPTOWN — A developer’s plans to turn an Uptown theater parking lot into a five-story apartment building — and turn the vacant theater into the new home of rock club Double Door — received initial city approval Thursday.
Development firm Cedar Street won city Plan Commission approval for a complex at Wilson and Kenmore avenues, which currently houses a parking lot and a historic theater that was most recently a bank.
Cedar Street’s plan calls for a 62-unit apartment building to rise on the parking lot at 4600 N. Kenmore Ave. The building would have ground floor retail, a 13-car parking garage and a fifth-floor amenity deck.
The neighboring building, known as Wilson Theater, 1050 W. Wilson Ave., would be redeveloped back into a theater after being used for years as commercial space, according to plans approved Thursday.
Development documents do not list the theater as being the future home of beloved music venue Double Door. But neighborhood officials have previously said the club, evicted from its longtime Wicker Park location in 2017, would take over the Wilson Theater space.
In December 2018, a Smashing Pumpkins pop-up merchandise shop at the Wilson Theater building had signs naming the location as the future home of Double Door.
The signs set off speculation and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) eventually confirmed the news. Double Door co-owner told Block Club in July 2019 that the move to Uptown “is happening.”
Formal plans for the Double Door project — plus its adjacent apartment building — were submitted to the city in February. At the time, neighborhood officials said it was a positive development for the future of the Double Door.
But since then, the coronavirus pandemic has brought the live music industry to a halt, with concert halls going dark for much of the year.
It is unclear how the pandemic has altered the Double Door’s plans.
City officials and Cedar Street representatives did not mention the Double Door by name at the Plan Commission Thursday, but did say the theater project was moving forward. Double Door co-owner Sean Mulroney did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
“It’s nice to have the opportunity to turn this building back to its roots,” said Cappleman of the Wilson Theater, built in 1908 and the longtime home to vaudeville performers.
Cedar Street’s plans for an apartment building on the theater parking lot site were floated as early as 2015.
In February, the prolific development firm submitted plans calling for an 8-story building with 110 apartments. Renderings of the project showed a classic, courtyard-style building that sought to blend in to the Uptown historic district it would inhabit.
Cedar Street has since scaled down the apartment building and opted for a more modern facade.
The apartment project approved Thursday calls for a five-story structure and 62 units, mostly micro-apartments that Cedar Street is known for. Six affordable units will be included in the project, the minimum required under the city’s affordable requirements ordinance.
Chicago Department of Planning and Development Commissioner Maurice Cox said lauded the project’s “sophisticated design.”
“I think the project has gotten immensely better,” he said at the commission meeting. “I just think it will be a wonderful addition to that corridor.”
The project still requires the approval of the full City Council.
This isn’t the only major development coming to this block of Wilson Avenue.
In November, plans for a 200-unit apartment building to rise from the City Sports building received initial city approval. That project is slated to break ground early next year.