The Permit Review Committee has approved the Congress Theater redevelopment. Located at 2135 N Milwaukee, the historic Congress Theater sits at the corner of N Milwaukee Avenue and N Rockwell Street. Baum Revision has taken over as the developer, replacing the previous developer who couldn’t finance the project.
Designed by Woodhouse Tinucci Architects, the plan for the rehabilitation remains unchanged from the previous ownership, including a full historic restoration to the theater, retail, and housing space. Work will restore the existing finishes without altering the layout or organization of rooms within the structure. The renovation will upgrade all of the mechanicals of the structure, including ventilation, electrical, plumbing, and the roof. New windows will be installed that will match the character of the original windows.
Beyond the theater, the property fronts the street with ground floor retail and two levels of residential space. Storefronts will be renovated and made to match the original storefront layouts. 16 affordable apartments will be included in the Milwaukee Ave building including studio, one-bed, and two-bedroom units. No parking will be included within the development.
Expected to cost a total of $70.4 million, the project will be funded with $13.3 million in equity, $28 million in debt, $9 million in historic tax credits, $5.5 million in a deferred developer fee, and the tentatively approved $20 million in TIF. The project costs include $12.8 million for the acquisition, with $57.5 million for the construction and soft costs.
The theater is already a Chicago landmark and the developer plans to seek its designation to the National Register of Historic Places. With approval from the Permit Review Committee, the project is ready to move forward pending the securing of TIF assistance which was approved by the Community Development Commission in March 2022 and awaits approval from City Council.