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Ridge Ave. Firehouse's $600K Renovation To Begin For Chicago Filmmakers' HQ

By Linze Rice | March 2, 2016 5:34am
 The interior of the Ridge Avenue Firehouse, which will begin its transformation into the new headquarters of the Chicago Filmmakers organization.
Ridge Firehouse
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EDGEWATER — Work will soon be underway for the $600,000 transformation of the historic 1928 firehouse on Ridge Avenue into a headquarters and movie house for the currently Andersonville-based Chicago Filmmakers, city records show.

Permits issued by the city Friday include the construction of a 149-person movie theater, artistic and instructional spaces and offices; the addition of an elevator and exit stairs; plus upgraded plumbing and electrical systems.

Brenda Webb, the organization's executive director, said work will begin next week and should be complete in about seven to eight months. The total budget to transform the firehouse into Chicago Filmmakers' new home is $1,000,000, she said.

Once the firehouse is renovated the nonprofit film organization would use the building to offer weekly screenings of independent films and documentaries, as well as classes available to the public.

The firehouse was sold to Chicago Filmmakers by the city in 2014 for $36,000, but the group has been focusing on fundraising since to raise the $600,000 necessary for changes. Recent efforts included special showings of women-made films at Loyola University.

Initial plans place the main entrance to the building off of the alley, with a concession stand and bathroom built just inside. The existing parking lot on the property includes 15 spaces.

Next door to the firehouse, a recently demolished residential structure (often referred to by Ald. Harry Osterman's office as a "shack") is slated to become a park or green space. The building at 5700 N. Ridge Ave. was formerly occupied by the Brabec brothers before the city used eminent domain to take it over.

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