“A long-shuttered historic movie theater building in Bridgeport could soon be revived as a live entertainment venue, restaurant and brewery.
“Plans to redevelop the 90-year-old Ramova Theater at Halsted and 35th streets were announced at a community meeting Tuesday night by Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, 11th.
“The $23 million planned renovation includes converting the theater, currently owned by the city, into a concert and performance space that can hold 1,600 people, according to the developer, Tyler Nevius.
“The developer’s plans also include buying a privately-owned parking lot across the street and privately-owned vacant commercial spaces next to the theater. The commercial spaces would be transformed into a new brewery and, with the help of Bridgeport native and chef Kevin Hickey, a revived Ramova Grill, a former restaurant next to the theater that once was known for its chili.”
“Maureen Sullivan, a Bridgeport native who ran for alderman in 2015, began a campaign to restore the theater in 2005, she said. At that time, seeing buildings on 31st through 35th streets and Halsted Street being torn down, “that made me nervous that my beloved theater that had been empty since 1986 would be next.”
“She circulated a petition and received 5,000 signatures in a few months, she said. She also got in contact with the late Ray Shephardson, a theater restoration specialist who restored the Chicago Theatre. With a lack of funding, however, her efforts to revive the Ramova stalled.
“After renovation plans were revealed Tuesday night, “this is the first time in 15 years that I’m actually really allowing myself to be excited,” Sullivan said. “I’ve been cautiously optimistic the whole time.”
“Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, said that given the history of the theater, the use of tax funds for redevelopment “is very reasonable and fair.“
“This is one place where (tax-increment financing) money really can help, when you’re looking at a neighborhood institution and building that is landmark quality.” (Chen, 11/21/19)
Plans For $23 Million Revival Of Bridgeport’s Ramova Theatre Revealed — And Neighbors Are Thrilled; In addition to the theater, the Duck Inn’s Kevin Hickey will bring back the Ramova Grill and include throwback favorites like chili and tamales, Ariel Cheung, Block Club Chicago, 11/20/19
Bridgeport’s Ramova Theatre in line for $22.9 million redevelopment; With city help, the project would convert the 90-year-old movie house into a live entertainment center. David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 11/20/19