There's no denying that the Congress Theater has had a checkered past, but the landmark movie palace is finally ready to move on to the next chapter in its storied history. Designed by architects Fridstein & Co., the 2,900 seat Congress Theater originally opened in 1926, during the height of the Roaring Twenties. A long-time anchor of the Logan Square neighborhood, the Congress Theater is probably best known to Chicagoans these days for hosting electronic music concerts, and for generally just being a public nuisance. In recent years, the old theater has racked up numerous building and safety code violations and even faced a foreclosure threat. After a lengthy (and contentious) public dispute with the Chicago City Council, and specifically with Alderman Proco Joe Moreno, the Congress Theater was shut down in 2013 and its embattled owner Eddie Carranza finally gave up his fight with the city and decided to sell the old movie palace. Today, the Congress Theater is the focus of a major renovation plan that will not only rejuvenate the venue, but will also bring new life to the store fronts and residential units that surround the theater.
It's been over a year since it was first announced that Cadillac Palace developer Michael Moyer was looking to take over the Congress Theater. However earlier this month Alderman Moreno's office announced that the legal SNAFU holding up the deal had finally been resolved and that Moyer is expected to close on the theater at some point in the next 60 to 90 days. Under the flag of New Congress, LLC, Moyer will lead the extensive renovation project which is set to include a small inn and affordable housing units. This past weekend Alderman Moreno hosted an open house at the theater for residents to swing by and get one last final look at the crumbling theater before its lengthy renovation process begins. Renderings from Woodhouse Tinucci Architects were placed in the lobby and offered an idea of what is to come. And with the once bleak Milwaukee Avenue Corridor in Logan Square looking to dramatically change in the next couple of years, the timing for Congress' remake couldn't be any better.
·Congress Theater Redevelopment Plan Ready to Move Forward [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous Congress Theater coverage [Curbed Chicago]
·Previous Milwaukee Avenue Corridor coverage [Curbed Chicago]