“Ringing the campus is not a good way for us to service and serve the campus, so we would like to consolidate in one building,” said Alicia Murasaki, a planner for the university, at a Monday meeting with residents.
The university will build a new two story facility services building at 5200 S. Cottage Grove Ave., vacating the former American Taxi Services building at 5600 S. Stony Island Ave., where Court Theatre rehearses on the second floor.
As a result, the university theater will move its rehearsal space to the former State Farm Insurance building at 5239 S. Cottage Grove Ave., just south of the proposed building.
Steve Albert, Court’s executive director, said the Stony Island Avenue space is not well suited for rehearsals and that the State Farm building would work much better after a column is knocked out and it gets a fresh coat of paint.
“We will probably find a way to build costumes,” Albert said, referring to the increase in space the new building will provide.
Albert said the on-campus theater eventually wants to find a way to consolidate its rehearsal, performance spaces and workshop in one building. But, for now, the move to the State Farm building will expand the theater’s space as it plans for the future.
As part of the move, 48 vans and other fleet vehicles from the university will move from three facilities to the new concrete and steel building at the end of 2014.
The university said there are no current plans for the American Taxi Services building, but many in the audience suspected it would be used for future housing or dormitories.
“The current use is not good,” said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), of the building across the street from Bret Harte Elementary School. “An apartment building, maybe some light manufacturing, would be a good use there.”
In addition, a steel shack located on the west side of campus and used by landscaping crews will be demolished to make way for a parking garage serving the university’s new hospital. A third building on the south side of campus used mostly for storage and accessible only by an alley will also be left vacant.
The university hopes the move will breath some life into the often-dark stretch of South Cottage Grove Avenue.
Albert said he hopes to open the new building to readings and other events, as it will include a community room.