The Chicago City Council has approved plans for a new theater building for the TimeLine Theater Company at 5033 N Broadway in Uptown. The building will be built in two phases, utilizing an existing century old warehouse building near the corner of N Broadway and W Argyle Street. The theater company which was started with $50 in 1997 has owned the building since 2018 and has been working with architecture firm HGA on the design which incorporates the existing glazed-tile building into its new home.
The first phase of the project will involve the refurbishment of the existing building into new spaces supporting TimeLine’s new free-span 250-seat black box theater. Originally the company wanted to build this new venue behind the building as an addition that would allow for the preservation of the old structure. This plan was changed due to the CTA taking ownership of the land until 2026. Further studies also found the existing front facade on Broadway was in poor condition due to water damage and overall the existing structure was too weak to support the needs of the project.
Because of this, the revised plan is to save the southern facade and replace the rest of the structure with new construction. Patrons will enter the new precast panel and glass front building into a new lobby cafe that will be open extended hours to serve lingering audiences, up a few steps will be the new flexible theater space which will be able to be transformed with various seating and stage configurations to best suit the productions shown. Around the theater, visitors will find new immersive exhibit galleries which have become a staple at the current outpost of the company.
New large backstage areas will consume most of the back of the building towards the new CTA tracks. These new facilities which are designed for collaboration and creation will include new office, rehearsal, and design and production spaces for all of the staff under one roof. A final large room will be built for the theater’s Living History program but can also be utilized for community meetings and events. Eventually once the CTA vacates the rear lot the company plans to launch a second phase of the project which will focus around a second 150-seat theater.
Future patrons of the theater will be able to reach the site via a three-minute walk to the nearby Argyle CTA Red Line stop. Due to this the project is applying to be a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and include no on-site parking, instead it is working to secure the use of 100-vehicle spaces in a nearby parking garage. While no set start-date was given for the first phase of the project, TimeLine expects to open its new doors to theater-goers in 2024 adding a new venue to Chicago’s over 250 existing theaters.