LAKEVIEW — The Chicago Photography Center is staying in Lakeview, with a gallery reopening set for March.
The nonprofit with photo classes, a gallery and photography critique sessions left its original location at 3301 N. Lincoln Ave. at the end of 2013 due to rent issues.
It's now located at 621 W. Belmont Ave., in a building owned by St. Peter's Episcopal Church, where rent costs 70 percent less, said Karen Egerer, the president of the center's board.
The new space doesn't quite have all the perks of the old one yet, such as a darkroom or gallery space, but it has the room to install even more additions than the old place, Egerer said.
They're not sure about how they'll enhance it yet. It's "wide open," she said.
"It’s fantastic," she said.
The building's gym, home to Red Tape Theatre until February, could be used for classes, the gallery, lectures and monthly "wine and critique" sessions once the center takes it over in March, according to the center's site.
The center is focusing on digital classes initially, which start up again next week. Darkroom equipment will be installed in the new location at a later time, Egerer said.
Chicago Photography Center's new location was a bit of surprise to some. Egerer previously said that the center would probably not stay in the neighborhood due to high rents. It's been struggling financially, partly due to declining enrollment in photo classes.
"As a nonprofit organization, we're responsible to people who donate money to us, who pay for classes," Egerer said. "It's clear that the best use of our charitable funds is not to be paying exorbitant rent and property tax."
The next "wine & critique" monthly BYO peer critique will be Friday, Jan. 17 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the new location. The theme is "Happy Accidents." The center is also taking submissions for its first gallery exhibition in March, with the fitting theme "New Beginnings."