On Feb. 8, the City’s Economic Development Manager, Johanna Leonard, announced the selection of the Ross Barney architectural firm to create plans for the proposed new construction theater building in the 700 block of Howard Street. Ross Barney designed the Levy Senior Center, the JRC Synagogue across the street from it, as well as a number of other projects in the Chicagoland area.

Ms. Leonard said she expects to return to Council with plans “in a month or two.”

The project has long been a priority for Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward. Several months earlier, Council approved the expenditure of $40,000 for architectural plans for the building.

Ms. Leonard said more than 50 design and theater professionals attended a meeting at the site. The City later received 12 formal responses to the RFP for design services. Ms. Leonard said the City will “also being in Schuler Shook theater planning consultants.”

At citizen comment, Mike Vasilko, an architect who, Ald. Rainey said, has devoted considerable volunteer hours to the project, said he was “asking for clarification from the Council” as to the true scope of the RFP. “Staff never answered questions from a bidder,” he said, and other aspects “caused confusion in the RFP.”

Mr. Vasilko warned that the true cost of the architectural services may exceed the $40,000 already approved. It is not clear, he said, that the $40,000 number is a cap.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she would meet privately with Mr. Vasilko to address his concerns.