City Council Inches Towards Plan for Theater

The Highland Park City Council voted unanimously to consider a memorandum of understanding regarding a proposed project to revitalize the Highland Park Theatre on Monday.

The City Council took a big step towards reopening at its meeting on Monday night, when it voted unanimously to to consider a memorandum of understanding to revitalize the and its adjacent parking lot.


The proposal, by Alcyon, LLC (Alcyon), was one of three proposals submitted in response to the City’s  on how to revitalize the theater and parking lot properties, according to a news release from the City of Highland Park.

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“This is the beginning of a thorough evaluation process,” said in the release.

The Alcyon would seek to replace the Highland Park Theatre and its adjacent parking lot with a sixstory, terraced designed, mixeduse, LEED targeted development, according to the release. The proposal includes 45 residential condominium units, 10,000 square feet of retail/commercial use, and a 500 to 600 seat theater/mixedmedia center. 

"We're excited about the possibility this proposal brings to us," City Councilman Paul Frank told Patch on Tuesday.

Now that the Council has signed off on the understanding, a city-contracted financial analyst will gather data to examine the proposal in order to determine what's allowable and what's feasible, according to Frank. Though the understanding means the city is in an exclusive talk with Alcyon for up to six months, the next steps in the process could begin in half that time.

"If a determination is made to go forward before six months we can go faster," Frank said.

The decision to enter into the understanding with Alcyon marks the beginning of a process that could take years; however, the Councilman noted that it's an important step forward.

"We're letting the public know where we're at," Frank said, "We need to move forward with this property and help bring back to life a really important asset of our downtown."

In the meantime, the City Council has not yet decided . About this, Frank sounded less optimistic.

"We're continuing to look at options, but I don't think there's enough support on the council to invest more money," he said.

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Redhead August 31, 2012 at 04:09 AM
And how about a theater where you can buy tickets ahead of time and choose your seat ahead of time so you don't have to come to a movie so far ahead of time1 Works in LA - would work here!
Redhead August 31, 2012 at 04:12 AM
What does the City Council plan to say to former prospects who were denied the opportunity to build higher? One case in point was the old Columbia Audio-Video building.
Daniel August 31, 2012 at 01:58 PM
David you are out of luck. My guess is the numbers only work with TIF. Still no word if they are paying for the prperty. My guess is no and that it is TIF funded.
Susan Kozloff September 01, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Sell it lock, stock, and barrel. It is a drain on taxpayers and a TIF will only drain more dollars from schools and all local programs when they are now needed most. We have had various downtown projects built with TIF funds which are still diverting taxpayers funds long, long after they were due to expire. This theatre is a boodoggle and there is no reason to hook the taxpayer into paying for its enlargement.
Stuart Senescu September 01, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Movie distributors are very close to providing only 'digital' movies, not 'film' - no more reels. It requires the theater operator to invest in expensive digital equipment. So if the city has any inclination to consider opening the theater on a limited basis, it needs to take into account this added expense with a very limited time for ROI. I agree with other residents to sell the building and lot 'as is'; don't create a TIF. A hulking concrete two story parking garage does not fit in with the transition from an older style block of storefronts to the tree lined residential area east of the current theater & surface lots. If the developers need to take over surface parking space they should put some of the new parking below grade level. What happens if the develpment is not successful? the City needs to shift as much risk as possible to the developer, that's their business. Cooperation is good, contribution is not.


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