By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
Get our newsletter
Get our mobile app
Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday announced $106 million in capital grants that will go toward revitalizing 50 commercial corridors and main streets throughout Illinois. Included in that is $2,999,996 for GT Partners, a subsidiary of Joseph James Partners, for renovating the historic theater at 224 N. Main St.
The 84-year-old former one-screen movie theater is envisioned as a venue for mid-sized musical acts, comedy and other live events for 600 to 900 people. That size is considered a “sweet spot” that offers a larger size than boutique theaters without the thousands of seats available in the BMO Harris Bank Center or Coronado Performing Arts Center, developer Peter Provenzano previously said.
“The Times Theater has a special place in Rockford’s history, and thanks to a grant from Rebuild Illinois it will have a special place in our future as well,” state Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Loves Park, said in a news release announcing the funding. “Revitalizing our downtown and its historic buildings is not just for entertainment: projects like this tell visitors and residents alike that downtown Rockford will remain a catalyst for economic growth throughout the region.”
The total cost of rehabilitating the theater is expected to be about $15 million, and developers said in January the state grant would help cover part of an approximately $4 million funding gap.
More than 1,300 people signed a petition earlier this year to encourage the state to fund the project.
“The west side of downtown along Main Street has long been the cultural corridor of our community, and this investment will enhance that further by bringing back to life not only a historical but very relevant asset in terms of the theater’s capacity and uses,” Provenzano, CEO of Joseph James Partners, said in a separate news release.
He thanked Stadelman, state Rep. Maurice West and the hundreds of other residents, government officials and organizations who supported the company’s efforts to win the state grant.
“This would not have been possible without their 1,330+ signatures to our change.org petition, many positive statements, and numerous letters of support to renovate this jewel of the Rockford region into an entertainment venue that will aid in the further revitalization Rockford’s urban core and drive additional visitation to our region,” he said.
Pritzker also announced that the city of Rockford would receive more than $2 million for improvements to the Madison Street corridor. The money will be used to resurface Madison Street from East State Street to Prairie Street. The city will also replace water mains, sidewalks and make bicycle lane and streetscape improvements.
Stadelman said it was significant for Rockford to receive two Main Street grants in a highly competitive statewide selection process.
“We successfully made strong cases for both projects,” Stadelman said in a news release. “Creating spaces for the arts to thrive is essential to a community’s quality of life, and a repurposed Times Theater further diversifies our entertainment options along Main Street.
“With the adaptive reuse of the Prairie Street Brewhouse, expansion of the Italian cultural clubs and the ongoing popularity of City Market and the riverfront YMCA, Madison Street is becoming an equally strategic corridor.”