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News Wed Jul 25 2012
Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil
Chances are you've been to Logan Square's historic Congress Theater venue, located at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., to see shows; whether it was a packed house for one of its frequent DJ acts, or featured an indie rock band, the Congress has been a versatile and popular venue for live music in Chicago. However, if you've been to a show there, you've also likely noticed the condition of the building itself. The Congress Theater's structure has posed issues for its upkeep and maintenance, due to the fact that this historic landmark was built in 1925, boasting older materials that are more difficult to keep in check today.
Just announced, the Congress Theater will be undergoing a renovation beginning this fall, as the venue will be partnering with Doejo, a media development agency that has worked with many unique and popular spaces within Chicago. The project will work on aesthetic development for the Theater by updating the older building materials but still keeping the same Congress Theater historic look and feel. It will also feature partnerships with local businesses within the spaces of the entertainment center featured on Milwaukee Avenue's street level, some of which have been announced as becoming a farmers market-style grocer, cafe Flat White, and a restaurant in the works.
One aim of development for the Congress will be to seek a local business presence by acquiring vendors and small businesses to develop a space within the Theater. Its improvements are linked to a vision for Logan Square; 1st Ward alderman Joe Moreno has expressed his desire to bring new businesses to Milwaukee Avenue, and sees the Congress Theater as a hub for entertainment in the Logan Square neighborhood.
Keeping the Congress Theater independently owned and operated has been of prime importance for owner Eddie Carranza, as Congress frequently features independent artists and hosts unique events such as the Logan Square Indoor Farmers Market.
"I don't want this building to be a cookie-cutter franchise-type building. I want to give it its own character. This isn't a strip mall, this is Logan Square. We want to grow that indie spirit, not break it up with a bunch of franchises," Carranza stated regarding his vision for the renovation.
During the process, the spirit of the Congress Theater will be kept the same, as it becomes updated and evolves from a multipurpose venue to a state-of-the-art community entertainment center. It will be interesting to watch the transition to the venue's updated facility, and, word on the street states that this might not be the only change in the future; the Congress Theater's management may also be looking to acquire property further north of the city, so development plans may continue on in the near future.