LINCOLN SQUARE — The American Blues Theater is getting a boost from the city toward building its first permanent home on North Lincoln Avenue.
The theater announced plans in 2022 for its first headquarters at 5627 N. Lincoln Ave. City Council on Wednesday approved $2.5 million in tax-increment finance funds towards the project.
The funding will add to money collected via the theater’s fundraising campaign, which has collected more than $4 million to date, according to theater leaders.
The campaign is ongoing with a goal of $7.8 million to pay for the building’s renovation and create a $500,000 reserve fund, theater spokeswoman Cathy Taylor.
Artistic Director Gwendolyn Whiteside thanked Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) and the city’s planning department officials for their tireless advocacy of our theater.
“After 37 years as an itinerant theater company, Ward 40’s leadership and community bestowed an incredible gift upon us,” Whiteside said in a statement. “Having a permanent home strengthens our commitment to serve the people of Chicago and expand our programming and arts education for decades to come.”
For more than 35 years, the theater has rented space in various locations, most recently basing its offices at 4809 N. Ravenswood Ave. and performing at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave.
Theater owners closed on the 17,965-square-foot Lincoln Avenue property last year. It was formerly a Mobil gas station, Walgreens and Dollar General.
The new venue is being designed by John Morris of Morris Architects Planners and will have theater systems supported by Schuler Shook.
Once construction is complete, it will include two theaters, one a 148-seat proscenium and the other a 40-seat flexible studio, company leaders said.
The lobby will have a box office, bar and concessions, and the building will have gendered and gender-neutral restrooms, dressing rooms, a greenroom, administrative offices, production spaces for theater equipment and costumes, as well as a small parking lot, according to plans.
Theater owners previously said they expect to wrap construction by November with plans to have a production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!” at the new venue in time for the holidays.
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