Steep Theater plans to buy the Edgewater building after losing its previous home to development

EDGEWATER – Steep Theater will remain in Edgewater with plans to open a venue a few blocks from its previous location, which it lost to redevelopment.

Steep Theater Company announced Wednesday that it has signed an agreement to purchase a building at 1044 W. Berwyn Ave. The location – the former location of a Christian Science reading room – will be redeveloped to serve as Steep’s corporate headquarters and performance space.

The venue is two blocks from Steep’s former storefront at 1115 W. Berwyn Ave. Steep Theater left this location in September 2020 after the building was sold to make way for an apartment and commercial development.

The search for a home sent Steep executives across town, but the company eventually achieved its goal of staying in Edgewater, its co-founder said.

“It was painstaking research that had us peeking into store windows across the city,” Peter Moore, art director and co-founder of Steep, said in a statement. “But the idea of ​​being somewhere other than Edgewater never appealed to us. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to put down permanent roots and build our new home in the neighborhood we call home.

The move to the property at Berwyn and Kenmore Avenues will require rezoning so that it can function as a theater. A project briefing will be held virtually at 6 p.m. Feb. 17, Ald. said Harry Osterman (48th).

An open house and other community meetings to discuss the project will also take place, Osterman said.

Steep hopes to close on the property this spring. After that, a fundraising campaign will be launched to finance the construction of the site. If all goes well, Steep will begin hosting shows at the site in 2023, executive director Kate Piatt-Eckert said.

Credit: Eric Allix Rogers/Chicago Architecture Center
sloping theater

Steep gave its first performances in 2001; two years later, the company opened a location in Wrigleyville. Steep then moved to Edgewater in 2008. He opened a bar next to his theatre, called The Boxcar, in 2018.

The company presents plays involving intimate stories of ordinary people that touch on larger societal issues. He is known for producing the first American productions of British and international playwrights.

Before the pandemic, Steep routinely sold out its 55-seat theater during production cycles. But like many performing arts organizations, Steep was forced to close during the pandemic. The company is planning a 2022 run in rented venues, according to Steep’s website.

At 3,500 square feet, the new location is roughly the size of Steep’s former home.

The building sits on a 17,500 square foot lot that includes parking and the possibility of further expansion, Piatt-Eckert said. The space is “flexible” to allow for different configurations to accommodate Steep’s productions, and Steep will only need to do “modest” renovations to house a theater room, she said in a statement. .

Credit: 2rz Architecture
MCZ Development is looking to convert a one-story commercial strip into an apartment building on Berwyn and Winthrop Avenues.

The building that Steep will live in previously served as the Christian Science Reading Room, which is a religious library operated by the Church of Christ, Scientist. The site at Berwyn and Kenmore avenues housed the Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist, built in 1907, according to the Edgewater Historical Society.

The church building was demolished in 1979 and the church then built the reading room to serve the congregants.

Replacing Steep’s former home in Berwyn, it is a five-storey mixed-use development with 77 apartments, 36 parking spaces and retail space on the ground floor. The project received local approval in July.

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