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Congress Theater Seeks Historic Status As $55 Million Renovations Continue

By Paul Biasco | June 13, 2016 6:10am | Updated on June 13, 2016 1:10pm
 Congress Theater is seeking a historic designation for the building.
Congress Theater is seeking a historic designation for the building.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

LOGAN SQUARE — The owners of the Congress Theater are seeking landmark status for the historic building.

In the filing with the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, the development team also revealed plans for a one-story addition to the theater and a new rooftop deck.

Last week the Commission on Chicago Landmarks approved the Congress' bid to be sent to the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council.

The building, which is undergoing a $55 million renovation project, was built in the 1920s and described as a neighborhood movie "palace."

The move by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks paves the way for the building to be considered for the National Register of Historic Places.

That designation would make the building eligible for federal preservation tax credits to cover 20 percent of the costs of renovation.

Scaffolding went up on the building, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., in November, but there has not been much visible work at the site in recent months.

The developer on the project, Michael Moyer, who led the $20 million restoration of the Cadillac Palace Theatre downtown, could not be reached for comment.

The restoration project includes rehabbing the historic lobby and auditorium as well as ground floor storefronts along Milwaukee Avenue, which are all currently vacant.

The plan also includes residential units above the commercial spaces, construction of a small inn and affordable housing units.

The project includes a total of 41 housing units.

Construction of the theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., in 1925. [The George Sollitt Construction Co.]

The application to be considered for a place on the National Register of Historic Places includes new details of the project.

One additional detail calls for a one-story rooftop addition and rooftop deck, which was approved with a few conditions that would limit any detraction from the historic facade along Milwaukee Avenue.

Interior work detailed in the historic application includes a pedestrian bridge in the main lobby that would span the vestibule.

The development team received a permit for renovations and demolitions May 4 that estimates the work at $750,000.

Other buildings that were approved to be considered by the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council on their path to historic status include Anthony Overton Elementary School, 221 E. 49th St.; Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, 4501 South Vincennes Ave.; Third Church of Christ, Scientist/Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, 2151 W. Washington Blvd.; and the U.S. Custom House, 610 S. Canal Street.

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