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West Loop Neighbors to Meet With Developer Over Children's Theater Plan

By Stephanie Lulay | September 10, 2014 8:48am
 The Chicago Children's Theatre wants to move into an empty former police station at 100 S. Racine Ave.
The Chicago Children's Theatre wants to move into an empty former police station at 100 S. Racine Ave.
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DNAinfo/Chloe Riley

WEST LOOP — A West Loop neighborhood group will meet with the developer who plans to rehab a former police station into a children’s theater.

Neighbors of the West Loop will host a neighborhood meeting with the developer at 7 p.m. Wednesday on the fifth floor of the lofts building at 1000 W. Washington Blvd., according to Bob Aiken, the group’s vice president.

After a community meeting at the end of August, Aiken said some neighbors have lingering concerns about parking and the added traffic the theater would bring the area.

The Chicago Children’s Theatre first announced plans to move into the old Near West District police station, 100 S. Racine Ave., in August.

But Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. (27th) said the vast majority of neighbors who attended the community meeting voted in support of the project. And he said personally he's on board with the plan that would bring “more culture and the arts” to the neighborhood, too.

The children’s theater would not result in the constant traffic or parking issues that a high-density residential building would attract, Burnett said, but he said he'd wait to hear how the neighborhood group responds after meeting with the developer.

Martha Goldstein, executive director the West Loop Community Organization, another neighborhood group, said she was writing a letter of support for the project.

Children’s Theatre spokesman Jay Kelly said plans for a new theater are in “very preliminary stages.” The theater plans to begin construction in the spring, with first performances in the spring of 2016.

Started in 2005, the Chicago Children’s Theatre is now based out of Wicker Park, where it has administrative offices at 1464 N. Milwaukee Ave. but no permanent home for the theater. The company  partners with theaters including Redmoon, the Goodman and the Ruth Page Center for the Arts to host performances.

The Near West District police moved into a new station at 1412 S. Blue Island Ave. at the end of 2012.

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