The Highland Park Theater originally opened in 1927 as a performing arts theater known as The Alcyon. The building was later divided into four movie theaters, ranging in size from 130 to 410 seats, in which first and second-run films were screened.
The City purchased the Highland Park Theater in 2009 with the intent to retain it as an entertainment venue. The Theater was closed in May 2012 for life safety reasons following an independent fire inspection.
In 2013, the City pursued redevelopment options for the Theater that would retain it as a theater or other cultural arts/entertainment venue while meeting the goals and desires of the community, generating revenue, and enhancing the Central Business District. As part of this effort, the City welcomed input from the public, including consideration of concepts brought forward by residents. The effort did not produce a viable option.
On August 9, 2013, the City closed submittals for a Request for Expressions of Interest and Qualifications (RFIQ). This document solicited interested entities for the purchase, long-term lease, rehabilitation and/or reuse of the Highland Park Theater. Five proposals were received by the City. The City Council carefully weighed the pros and cons of each proposal before selecting one to move forward to final consideration.
On October 28, 2013, the City Council approved a Resolution authorizing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with The Alcyon Foundation to examine the feasibility of their proposal to renovate and redevelop the Theater. The MOU was approved for a term that would expire on January 31, 2014.
In January 2014, the City received communication from the President of the Alcyon Foundation indicating they were withdrawing their proposal. The Alcyon Foundation pursued a variety of different avenues, both residential and business, and were not able to secure the financial support necessary from the community. They noted in their correspondence to the City that there was insufficient financial support for the development of a mixed use venue, and they could not secure the necessary financial commitment to advance the capital campaign for the long term operation of the Theater.
On January 27, 2014, Mayor Rotering announced that the City Council had agreed to sell the property without any of the previously required restrictions that the property be used as a theater or an entertainment center.
On February 14, 2014, the City issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a qualified commercial real estate broker to market the Highland Park Theater property.
On April 16, 2014, the City agreed to move forward with At Properties to broker the Highland Park Theater property at 441-447 Central Avenue. An appropriate purchaser was not identified and the property remained for sale on the open market.
The City considered five proposals at a public meeting on September 21, 2015. Public feedback was attained through a survey that was available from September 21 - October 17, 2015.
In May 2016, The Canel Companies proposal was selected by the Mayor and Council as the purchaser for the property.
At the November 14, 2016 Council Meeting, Council unanimously approved a purchase and sale agreement for $1,100,000 with the Canel Companies of Highland Park, IL for the Highland Park Theater.
The City of Highland Park proactively worked to preserve the contents and architectural elements of the Highland Park Theater. This effort continued through an online public auction scheduled September 5 – October 4. The City contracted with National Property Solutions Inc., an architectural auction company based in Deerfield, Illinois to catalog the contents, manage the sale through an online auction system, and coordinate content removal.
Friday, September 8, 2017, HP Theater Redevelopment, LLC (Canel Companies) took ownership of the theater property and adjacent Ori South Parking lot property.
HP Theater Redevelopment LLC intends to demolish the existing property and construct a new building to be used for retail and restaurant space. HP Theater Redevelopment LLC is proceeding through the City’s procedures for zoning, development, and construction, which are outlined in the City Code.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions about the Highland Park Theater Property can be found here.
Theater Redevelopment Survey Results
At its October 26, 2015 Committee of the Whole Meeting, the City presented results from the public survey pertaining to the potential redevelopment of the Highland Park Theater property and adjacent parking lot. Public feedback from the survey is considered directional and will be one of the several components considered to assist the City in making a final determination regarding the property, which has been for sale on the open market since April 2014. The City selected five proposals to be presented at a Special Meeting of the Committee of the Whole on September 21 and solicited public feedback via a survey which was available online and in print from September 21 until October 17, 2015.
The City received 353 responses to the survey; however, because the survey was voluntary, the results are not scientific and only reflect the sentiments of those who responded and not the public as a whole. Overall, survey respondents noted that Neighborhood Impact and Land Use were the most important characteristics of development for the Theater. Historic preservation and public parking were ranked as less significant factors that should be considered. The survey also asked respondents to rate the favorability of the five development proposals and two demolitions, non-build alternatives (additional parking or additional green space).
On all project characteristics tested the Dayan Theater Market was viewed as the most favorable proposal. However, about 31% of the qualitative responses indicated concern about the viability of this type of market in Highland Park. The Geraci & Katz mixed-use development proposal was the second most favorable in terms of overall concept with 36% of respondents indicating a favorable or very favorable view of that proposal.