A new cost estimate for building a theater on Howard Street in Evanston pegs the price at a minimum of $5.5 million dollars.
That’s more than triple the $1.7 million estimated cost of a version of the project that aldermen rejected three years ago — largely because that price was nearly three times the original $600,000 project cost estimate.
The two previous plans were for a city-owned building at 727-29 Howard. The latest estimate is for another city-owned property at 721-23 Howard.
The City Council tonight is not scheduled to take any action on the construction project, but is being asked to approve an 18-month lease that would let the Strawdog Theatre Company use another city-owned building on Howard, the former police outpost at 633 Howard, as an office and rehersal space while plans are developed to bring the group to a permanent location in Evanston.
Strawdog, which will soon lose its existing rented space in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood to the wrecking ball, has lined up a temporary performance space at the Factory Theatre at 1623 West Howard in Chicago, about a half mile east of the police outpost site.
City officials describe the theater project as a key component of the city’s revitalization efforts on Howard and say in a memo to aldermen say they are “exploring opportunities” for funding the project, with the Howard/Ridge tax increment financing district “likely to be a key source of funds.”
It’s unclear at this point how much funding Strawdog, the city’s favored tenant for the planned theater, would bring to the table.