University Reconsiders Future of Hyde Park Theaters

posted by btkrefft on February 4, 2004 at 6:05 am

CHICAGO, IL — Plans for the former Hyde Park Theaters, which closed in early 2002, in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, are being re-evaluated, according to the University of Chicago’scampus newspaper.

The theaters, located near the University of Chicago (which has owned the property for almost two years now), were at one time being considered as a performing arts venue for the University, but now the University is revising their plans for the old movie house, which was originally opened in 1915 as a single screen theater but eventually carved into four small screens.

Today, the University is mulling a couple of new options that don’t include using the Hyde Park as a movie or live theater. One is to convert the building over to retail use, another would call for the theater building’s demoliton, to be replaced by a mixed use structure, housing retail, residences and an underground parking garage.

Hank Webber, the University of Chicago’s vice president of community affairs says that reusing the theater, originally called the Harper, as a theater is “unlikely but not impossible” and feels that if the building was converted or rebuilt as retail “we are confident that we could rent it to tenants that the community feels positive about”.

Furthermore, the theater is in such an advanced state of disrepair, the University said it would be too costly to renovate. “Our primary business is as a university” Webber says.

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