If you didn’t know about the Congress Theater‘s (@congresstheater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave.) renovation plans, what’s in store for the neighborhood icon in the coming months will likely impress you. This historic representation of classical revival architecture was built in 1926, and has experienced the ups and downs of the surrounding neighborhood ever since.
Soon it will receive a much needed facelift that includes the repurposing of the often empty storefronts that line the building at street level. Here are some highlights to the coming plans:
- The Congress is in the process of developing several storefronts as a way to promote an engaging Community Center.
- The Congress recently applied and has been granted permits from the City of Chicago to renovate several storefronts. Particularly exciting is a new neighborhood grocer and cafe. The business is intended to be a limited grocer and deli with an exciting array of specialty food groceries, as well as a relaxing cafe serving modern comfort food.
- Another potential new tenant is Kilwins handmade chocolates, fudge and ice cream. Known for making genuine handmade premium chocolates, Kilwins offers nothing but the highest quality treats. Made-in-store products like Mackinac Island Fudge, brittles, caramels, caramel corn, hand-dipped chocolate products and caramel apples add theatre to the store experience. Kilwins stores typically are located in historical areas with strong community support. The new franchise is a great fit for the growing community that will help the Congress serve local residents, generate new cafe business traffic and enhance the local entertainment scene.
In addition to building renovation, the Congress Theater has increased its security, including posting security officers in alleys and implementing a patrol that reaches N Talman Ave. The management team also has met with surrounding businesses to work more closely to keep the neighborhood clean.
All this seems to be an impressive turn around for a business that has had a negative impression in the neighborhood.
What do you think?
Photo: Brenton Harper-Murray