With Kanye's Help, Will Regal Theater Be Ready By Oct. 10?
It has been about a month since mercurial entertainer Kanye West tweeted that "We're going to restore the Regal Theater," and now plans for work on the Chicago historic movie palace seem to be solidifying, though the team has less than a week to get about $150K of work done.
In late September, theater owner Jerald Gary and his attorney informed the city of West’s involvement in efforts to reopen the 91-year-old property, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, though details haven't been released.
The city closed the building about two years ago, and the goal now is to reopen it temporarily to participate in the upcoming Chicago Open House event, in which members of the public would be able to enter the structure to look around.
As of Oct. 4, the theater is not listed as part of the Chicago Open House, which is an annual event put on by the Chicago Architectural Center. The event will be the weekend of Oct. 13-14. The Sun-Times reported about $150K in work needs to be done by Oct. 10 to bring the building up to code before it can be opened for the event.
The theater, also known as the New Regal Theater or the Avalon Regal Theater, and designed in the 1920s by architect John Eberson, is at 79th Street and Stony Island Avenue.
"[Eberson's] plans for the Avalon Theater were said to have been inspired by a Persian incense burner he found at an antiques store," the Chicago Architecture Center says. "The lobby he designed is resplendent with colored tile under a flying-carpet ceiling. Set into the ceiling are gemstones that glistened as they moved, blown by the air from a then-recent innovation known as air conditioning."
Gary's longer-term goal is to revive the theater as an event center for the South Shore neighborhood.
In 2014, Gary acquired the 2,250-seat theater out of foreclosure for $100K, and he has since been raising money to do repairs to the building.
“I am thrilled to have Kanye’s support as I work to reopen this Landmark venue to the community and world,” Gary said in a statement after West's tweet. “His global impact and influence can bring much needed positive attention to Chicago’s South Shore community.”
Gary told the Sun-Times that he has already poured “over $1M” into getting the theater back into shape. The work remaining is relatively minor: plumbing and electrical work, along with some technology upgrades.