The Community Development Commission has approved $20 million in TIF assistance for the redevelopment of the Congress Theater. 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. 14 affordable apartments will be produced out of existing rooms, creating all studios measuring 420 square feet. 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 TIF money would be paid out in two installments of $10 million. The first would come at the issuance of the Certificate of Completion, expected to come in Q4 2023 when construction is expected to wrap up. The second one would be paid out at the first anniversary of the certificate of completion, expected for Q4 2024 before the Fullerton/Milwaukee TIF district expires.
The theater is already a Chicago landmark and the developer plans to seek its designation to the National Register of Historic Places. The development scheme has already secured approvals from the Chicago Plan Commission under the previous developer and now is one step closer to securing the necessary TIF money. The TIF assistance now heads to the City Council for final approval.