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On Aug. 8, City Council approved zoning variations for a new 550-seat live-music theatre with an attached restaurant at 1026 Davis St., the current home of Tom Thumb Hobby Crafts. Council approved the major variations needed, including an increased building height and a zero-setback rear lot line, give “Grace Music Theatre” a legislative green light.
The application for zoning relief requested a 3-foot increase in the maximum building height, from 42 feet to 45 feet. While the proposed height is 45 feet, the portion of the building fronting on Davis Street would be only 34 feet high.
The application also asked that the developer be allowed to build to the rear lot line rather than follow the requirement of a 15-foot setback from the alley. The music hall, however, would be set back the required amount from Davis Street. A ground-floor restaurant would likely take up much of the Davis Street storefront.
City Council also approved a change that would allow the developer to rent parking spaces for the music theatre at a location other than the Sherman Plaza garage, if closer parking became available.
Evanston resident David Colker, the developer of the music theatre, told the RoundTable that the plan is to bring a wide range of music to the theater, and added that downtown was a logical place for a theater.
Lawrence Kearns from Wheeler Kearns Architects said the purpose of the project was to establish a “high-caliber listening environment.
“A lot of what we struggled with on these initial designs is the fact that we want to have every single person within 50 feet of the performer,” said Mr. Kearns. “So that this will be a very intimate environment … performers would be attracted to this venue because of its uniqueness.”
The music theatre will be linked to Studio Media Recording Company, located next door at 1030 Davis St.