Friday, February 25, 2011

New Five–Screen Movie Theater Coming to 53rd Street

posted by chicago pop

Well how about that. Sorry, all you 5th Ward Hairston voters, but the 4th Ward is really where it's at. We won't object to you coming north to spend your money.

From the University of Chicago:

The University of Chicago plans to bring The New 400 Theaters, an independent movie operator that will offer a mix of art, children’s and wide–release films, in the soon–to–be renovated buildings at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue.

Officials said the 10,149–square–foot theater plan includes five screens with state–of–the–art digital projection. One screening room will have tables placed between the seats for future lunch and dinner options.

The New 400 Theaters plans to discount tickets for students, seniors and children. General–admission seating will be below market prices, said theater officials.

“We believe students, faculty, staff and our neighbors will be very excited about having a new movie theater within walking distance,” said Kimberly Goff–Crews, Vice President for Campus Life. “As we talk to members of our community about how to enhance campus life, this is one of the ideas that comes up frequently.”

The agreement with The New 400 Theaters is part of a broader effort to revitalize the 53rd Street corridor as a focus of commercial, retail and entertainment activity.

Last month, the University unveiled plans to begin a major renovation of the commercial and theater buildings at 53rd Street and Harper Avenue, which are currently vacant. Five Guys restaurant, scheduled to open by year’s end, will be the first tenant. Additional tenants will be announced in the upcoming months. The University is also partnering with the City and community leaders to lead an ambitious redevelopment of the adjacent Harper Court property as a mixed–use complex.

“The theater, along with other strategic revitalization efforts, will bring added value to the area. It is one more piece of our ongoing conversations with the City and the neighborhood to build Hyde Park as a key destination on the South Side of Chicago,” said Susan Campbell, Associate Vice President of Civic Engagement.

The New 400 Theaters opened its first venue in Rogers Park in July 2009. That site, built in 1912 near Loyola University and formerly known as Village North, is one of the oldest continuously operating movie theaters in the country. Tony Fox, owner and operator of The New 400 Theaters, said the Hyde Park location was ideal due to its close proximity to the campus and the overall commitment from the community to upkeep its neighborhood.

“We are proud to bring our theater to Hyde Park, a place where people really care about their community,” said Fox. “My passion is community service, and we hope to continue in the same tradition as we have done in Rogers Park — to bring safe, reliable and sound entertainment to the area.”

Fox said his business partner, Tom Klein, will serve as general manager in Hyde Park. Klein is also the general manager for The New 400 Theaters in Rogers Park. He said they are interested in talking with Doc Films, the University student group that screens diverse films each quarter for students, faculty, staff and the community, to see if there are potential partnerships that could work in the new theater model.

The movie theater has a targeted opening date of fall 2012.


Lilithcat said...

Splendid. But I don't know why you have to turn this into a 4th Ward vs. 5th Ward thing. Is there an abandoned movie theatre in the 5th ward I don't know about?

chicago pop said...

Well, aside from being tongue-in-cheek -- and I'm rather in favor of Hyde Park being integrally represented in a single city ward -- the dispatch with which the University is moving on 53rd Street has everything to do with the negative experience of Doctors Hospital (5th Ward). A negative experience in which, like a few others, a number of 5th Ward residents played outsized roles. Thankfully, that kind of nonsense is not shaping up on 53rd St -- and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be tolerated if it did.

So, to the extent that we're forced to live within these artificial ward divisions, they do make a difference. The vitality of the neighborhood will shift away from the residential 5th, NIMBY heartland and seat of a NIMBY alderman, to the more Chicago and commercially-oriented 4th. And there may indeed be an empty movie theater in the 5th, I don't know.

David Farley said...

There's already a nice "movie theater" in the 5th Ward called Doc Films.

chicago pop said...

And they may be working together.

David Farley said...

I hardly see the need for another movie theater in Hyde Park when we have Netflix. But how about a bar that also has arcade games? That would be neat!

chicago pop said...

Yeah, I was totally into that concept.

Lilithcat said...

@ David Farley -

Not everyone uses Netflix, you know. For those of us who enjoy making a spontaneous decision to go see a film, having a theatre nearby, particularly one with a mix of films, will be a godsend.

I will, however, continue to miss Hollywood Video.

Richard Gill said...

Among the dear departed movie theaters of yore that were in the present 5th Ward:

Hamilton— 71st & Merrill
Jeffery*— 71st & Jeffery
Maryland— 63rd & Maryland
Jackson Park— 67th & Stony Island
Stony— 69th & Stony Island

* Saturday mornings - 30 cartoons.

On the ward's fringes:

Chelten— 79th @ Exchange
Avalon— 79th @ Stony Island

Others, anyone?

David Farley said...

Walgreen's also has a Redbox now, for people who like to stand in line watching other people fiddle around because they can't decide what movie they want to watch.

Lilithcat said...

I spent many a happy Saturday at the Hamilton and the Jeffrey, and a few at the Avalon, too. The Hamilton was where I was traumatized by "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", so much so that I won't eat calamari to this day!

The Avalon has been through a couple of incarnations as the Regal, and is a Chicago Landmark.

Richard Gill said...

I think I found it more traumatic to sit through Kirk Douglas singing "A Whale of a Tale" about Mermaid Minnie dumping him for a trout. That scene was before the giant squid.....

Adding to the theater list:
Shore - 75th near Yates. I'm less certain on this one.

David Farley said...

At last an excuse to post this to HPP. Here: