Waukegan Scales Back Plans For Genesee Theatre

posted by btkrefft on September 29, 2004 at 2:37 pm

WAUKEGAN, IL — The goal to raise $5 million towards the restoration and reopening of the historic Genesee Theatre in downtown Waukegan was not met, and the city of Waukegan will only be able to contribute $500,000 towards the theater. Therefore, plans for the old movie palace will be scaled back and its opening date is not known.

According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia-based SMG is being chosen by Waukegan to operate the Genesee, which should be made official at a city council meeting today. Brian Kabatznick, vice president of SMG, says that local groups could make the theater their home base, which could increase the usage of the theater once it is reopened.

As the theater’s restoration has still not been completed, and the parking garage isn’t expected to be finished until late November, the earliest events at the Genesee wouldn’t be until at least December.

In a related story, plans for a Jimmy’s Charhouse to open at the former Fiesta Palace (originally the Academy Theatre) across the street from the Genesee have been dropped due to the uncertain schedule of the Genesee. According to Ray Vukovich, director of governmental services for Waukegan, three other restaurants are interested in the Fiesta Palace building, but would not name them.

State Senator Terry Link, who is President of the Friends of the Historic Genesee Theatre, compares the delays and cost overruns of the 2500-seat theater to that of Millenium Park in Chicago, which was notoriously behind schedule and way over its budget. However, when it finally opened this past summer, was met with rave reviews.

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