Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Key Chicago Commission Approves TIF Funding for Wilson Avenue Theater Restoration, and Double Door Opening

If we've learned one thing in doing this blog for many years, it's that Everything Goes Slower Than We Are Initially Told It Will. 

In a big city like Chicago, projects have to navigate tons of red tape and go through various committees, including the Department of Planning and Development. City permits and permissions move at a glacial speed, despite every mayor (to our long memory) proudly saying that he or she has 'eliminated' much of the red tape.

Case in point: the rebirth of the Double Door at the site of the former Wilson Avenue Theater. We've been reporting on it for literal years. It might have seemed like it's at a standstill, or not happening at all, but this is yet another red tape cautionary tale. 

Yesterday we got proof the process is still going on, but moving slower than the Kennedy during summer (aka "construction season"). 

The Chicago Department of Planning and Development considered the Double Door's application and gave it approval yesterday, approving $5,000,000 in Wilson Yard TIF funds for the project. 

Here's the confirmation tweet from the Department of Planning and Development on Tuesday evening:

"CDC [Community Development Commission] approved up to $5 million in TIF assistance for Double Door Liquors 2.5 LLC's planned restoration of the former Wilson Theater at 1050 W. Wilson Ave. in Uptown. The $10.4 million project will reopen the 115-year-old building as the Double Door Theater music venue."

We are told multiple local stakeholders submitted letters in support, including Uptown United, the Black Ensemble Theater and the People's Music School, with the BET and People's Schools pairing with the new Double Door on free music programs. 

The Alderman also submitted a letter in support, and preservationists spoke in favor of the project, including representatives from Preservation Chicago

With the $5,000,000 allocation (the Community Development Grant we reported about a few weeks ago), financing appears mostly done. The owners are contributing approximately half of the funding for rehabilitation, and this grant, plus $125,000 in Adopt-A-Landmark funds, will pick up the balance

We hear that approximately $8,500,000 is going to the physical rehabilitation of the building, which is not unexpected given its age.

Here's hoping for another update, and maybe even renovations, beginning soon. We'll be watching closely.


  1. Any other country but America, this would have been done and over with. BLOATED City policies and processes is RIGHT.

    1. Any other country would not give a private business $5,000,000.00 in taxpayer money.

    2. 5 million to a group of millionaires!

    3. Do you even bother to think if what you're posting is true? The UK provides government funding for privately owned music venues (Music Venue Trust). So does the Dutch government (Performing Arts Fund). In Finland, the government is the primary funder of entertainment venues, not the private sector. In fact, European arts centers (of all kinds) get 95 percent of their funding from the government(s), not from private funding. So before you start spouting out sentences that support your personal opinions, please make sure you know what you're talking about first.

  2. Totally agree, the building permits and Tif approval is like a Banana Republic train wreck. Disgusting.