The former Century 12 Cinema in Evanston will reopen in about a year as part of a planned mass revitalization of Church Street Plaza.
The place is expected to be sold to Chicago-based development firm GW Properties later this month.
“A year ago, it wasn’t certain that movie theaters would come back,” said Mitch Goltz, co-founder of GW Properties. “But as we’ve seen, people are back in theaters. They want to resume their daily activities.
Holtz told the Daily GW Properties has been interested in the place since it opened 20 years ago and hopes to attract more than 10 new businesses to revitalize vacancies in the three large buildings in the plaza. The group also plans to keep the current rental businesses there.
The theater – one of the largest in Illinois before it closed in 2020 – was well known in Evanston for its $ 5 Tuesday ticket deals and lobby cocktail bar. Carlos Perkins,[pronouns: he/him/his – reporter’s notes] who worked at Evanston for decades and took a morning almost every week, described it as his favorite place to unwind after work.
Since the theater closed, Perkins has spent his free time at a friend’s pizza place near the Howard Street CTA station or watched basketball games in Glenview and Fairfield. But he felt his routine had been fundamentally disrupted.
“I told people, ‘They closed my movie spot. What am I supposed to do now? ‘ “, did he declare.
For Joy Holden (SESP ’18), the closure of the theater meant mourning a vital gathering space during her undergraduate career. She remembers going to the theater with her father when he visited her most Wednesday nights.
In the heyday of the MoviePass ticket subscription app, Holden said that she and a close friend saw almost every movie released in 2018. Now she is anxiously awaiting her return.
“I couldn’t imagine Evanston without our cinema,” Holden said.
Holtz hopes the reopened theater will provide a comfortable gathering place in a high traffic residential area. Easy access from the plaza to the car park and Davis CTA train station will repopulate the theater with residents of surrounding towns once it reopens, he said, and feedback from residents has been overwhelmingly positive so far.
“This is an exceptional property and an ideal location that has all of the attributes necessary for long-term success in a post-COVID environment,” said Holtz.
Communications manager Shelby Schultz, who resumed going to theaters in August, has caught up on her watchlist in other local venues. So far she has visited the Music Box Theater in Chicago and AMC Village Crossing 18 from Skokie.
After growing up in a film industry family, she looks forward to resuming her visits to the Evanston Theater once or twice a week once it reopens.
“I think there is something to be said about every type of movie watched in a theater,” Schultz said. “You can’t really enjoy it unless you don’t have the opportunity to be distracted. “
Twelve of the theater’s original 18 screens will remain, Goltz said. He added that GW Properties will partner with another entertainment company to convert the other six screens, as well as the second floor of the former Urban Outfitters, into a climbing space.
Perkins, however, is very excited to get back to basics and start returning to the movies for midweek pick-ups and weekend getaways.
“For me, this has always been a focal point in this field,” said Perkins. “I could just get away from it all, have an hour and a half or two hours of calm and relax for the week.”
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