UPTOWN — TimeLine Theatre Company is moving forward with its relocation from Lakeview to Uptown, where it plans to overhaul a warehouse into a modern theater and arts center, according to renderings released this week.
TimeLine unveiled its plans for the space Monday, more than two years after it bought the building at 5033 N. Broadway. The designs include a theater, gallery area, bar and cafe, plus offices and classroom space.
The company bought the Uptown building in late 2018, seeking a bigger space than the 99-seat theater at its longtime home at 615 W. Wellington Ave. Now it needs a zoning change from the city to put its plans into motion.
TimeLine’s plans call for a major renovation of the 100-year-old Broadway building, plus a 15-foot addition into the neighboring vacant lot. The theater company also wants to remove the former warehouse building’s classic facade and replace it with a modern, glassy front that will bring art to the public, TimeLine Artistic Director PJ Powers said.
“It was incredibly important to us to have this very open facade to really create an inviting, welcoming, gathering place where everyone in the community can see themselves inside,” Powers said at a community meeting held by Ald. Harry Osterman’s (48th) office Monday.
The glassy facade would showcase a first-floor cafe and bar, a second-floor gallery space and upper-floor rehearsal space, helping activate the building and make the art experience more communal, Powers said.
“Whether you’re in possession of a ticket or not, we want to draw people in,” he said.
Above the bar would be a a 250-seat theater, which would be customizable for stage productions. There will also be art education space. Dressing rooms, production space and offices would be situated at the rear of the building.
A second phase of the project would include a second, 150-seat theater built in the back of the facility. That work won’t commence until the CTA is closer to finishing the Red-Purple Modernization Project, since some of the vacant parcel TimeLine acquired is being used by the CTA during the reconstruction.
Timeline has secured parking spaces in the garage just north of its location, which is being used for Cedar Street’s two apartment developments on the block.
The theater building will allow TimeLine to grow its art exhibit and arts outreach programs, theater officials said. TimeLine produces stage shows based on historical events that can be tied to current issues, and it usually has a gallery exhibit tied to its plays. Putting on a play and an exhibit is a challenge in its current Lakeview space.
“The play itself is the main event, but we’ve always referred to our exhibit as sort of Act Two of a TimeLine experience,” Power said. “Having this be very accessible is extremely important to us.”
Osterman will have a second meeting on the project June 28, and members of the public will be able to weigh in on the proposal. He’s not said whether he’ll support the zoning change.
If TimeLine gets approval from Osterman and eventually City Council, its officials hope to open the doors of the Uptown building in late 2023.
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