EDGEWATER — The Ridge Avenue Firehouse will soon be a hub for city film aficionados after the City Council approved the $36,000 sale of the building to Chicago Filmmakers.
The vacant city-owned firehouse at 5714 N. Ridge Ave., a Chicago Landmark built in 1928 and trimmed in terra cotta, had been empty since firefighters moved out in 2008.
The nonprofit film group, currently located in Andersonville, plans to spend $600,000 over the next eight months to a year to renovate the firehouse, which had fallen into disrepair.
"We’re thrilled," said Brenda Webb, the filmmaker's executive director. "We're really humbled by the confidence they’re putting in us. We recognize that the building is an asset for the community."
She said the organization would now begin raising money to pay for the renovation as it secures a loan for some of the construction costs.
"It’s a big responsibility, but we feel like we’re prepared to take it on," Webb said of the renovation.
Once the firehouse was renovated the organization would use the building to offer weekly screenings of independent films and documentaries, as well as classes available to the public.
James Gorski, the Chicago Filmmakers' architect, said at a community meeting in December that the basement of the firehouse would be used mostly for storage. The first floor's truck bay would be converted into a screening room with as many as 99 seats. The second floor would be used for classrooms.
An elevator would also be added to the building, he said.
The main entrance to the building would be located off of the alley. A concession stand and a bathroom would be built just inside. The existing parking lot on the property includes 15 spaces.
Neighbors have been waiting for years for a new tenant at the firehouse, which has been empty and open to the elements.
An open house earlier in the summer at the firehouse attracted representatives of a brew pub, theater groups and a nursery school.
The property had been appraised at $360,000.
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