OLD TOWN — Long before Second City's staff offices were destroyed in an Aug. 26 fire, the theater company had been planning a massive renovation. Thanks to a quick cleanup, planners announced Wednesday that they're sticking to their original completion goal of December 2015.
The space under construction was spared the worst of the fire, suffering only mild smoke and water damage. After taking three weeks to scrub and re-paint damaged surfaces, workers "gave up nights and weekends" to make sure the 25,000-square-foot expansion wil be ready on time, according to Abby Wagner, Second City's director of business development.
Second City CEO Andrew Alexander said he was astounded that the plans were able to get back on track so quickly.
"The entire team here managed to pull together in an amazing way, and we're excited to have everything ready by December," Alexander said. "The insurance people said this amount of cleanup was enough to take three months, and somehow we got it all done in three weeks."
Mostly comprising classroom space, Wagner said, the expansion will help shave down waiting lists for hotly demanded improv, acting and writing classes.
A large open space with bleachers is planned for students to be able to hang out between classes. [Second City]
All in all, according to a press release, the new space will include:
• A new bar and restaurant, named "1959" for the year of the theater's founding
• A 50-seat movie screening room, named for the late director and Second City alumnus Harold Ramis
• A soundstage for filming, complete with a green screen and lighting system
• Two small theaters to be used as performance spaces for acting and improv classes
• An open space with 12 levels of bleachers for public events and presentations
• An open workspace with desks, power outlets and study carrels (not to be confused with Steve Carells, of which Second City is associated with one)
• Seven classrooms for improv, acting and writing classes
Communal space, Wagner said, was a major theme of the renovation.
"We want a place for people to come together and hang out, to work on a screenplay or workshop ideas," Wagner said. "We want to have a space that welcomes that — people shouldn't have to go across the street to Starbucks to do it."
A new 50-seat screening room will be named for the late Harold Ramis. [DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin]
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: