Developer Mitch Goltz, in front of the movie theater at 1715 Maple Ave. (RoundTable photo)

Mitch Goltz, co-owner of developer GW Properties, told the RoundTable that the firm is on track to close soon on the purchase of Church Street Plaza, the 200,000 square-feet of properties that include Evanston’s former Century movie theater at 1715 Maple Ave., which has been closed for more than a year.

Plans include reviving the 12 screens on the north side of the theater and repurposing the other six screens as an entertainment, fitness or recreational venue, such as rock climbing. He said plans for the theater site “are in advanced discussion” with a “very strong and nationally known” movie theater company.

Goltz put the time frame for signing a deal, making repairs and reopening the theater “within the next few months.”

Besides the former Century movie theater, Church Street Plaza includes all properties on Maple Avenue between Clark and Church streets. That takes in the current Chili’s, Dogtopia, Blick, Salon Loft, World Market, as well as the former Urban Outfitters and Uncle Dan. On the south side of Church Street, the Plaza includes Noodles, Pure Barre and Trulee. Northwestern Medicine and a Verizon store occupy the Church Street Plaza space across from the movie theater.

“Other new tenants will be coming soon,” Goltz said. Some spaces will be available for leasing and Goltz said he is eager to hear from anyone with ideas.

Despite the pandemic-related downturn, Goltz is optimistic about getting the silver screens operational again. “A year ago there was a lot of uncertainty about the movie industry,” he said. “But theater sales are up. People are eager to get back, we’ve seen it in other markets.”

He said the City was “enthusiastic about bringing to life this trophy asset,” as he called the movie theater. He did not think a lot of work would be needed to get the 12-screen theater up and running. “We’re looking to reposition what’s already here. It’s a great footprint. The bones are here.”

Additionally, the Music Box Theatre in Chicago has made a proposal “related to reopening the theater,” said owner William Schopf. He said the proposal was submitted in May, and he has not heard back from the City.

“It’s a difficult market for everyone, given the performance of movie theaters in the last year and a half,” Schopf said. “We’re bullish, but not everyone is.”

City of Evanston Economic Development Manager Paul Zalmezak said that with the considerable outside interest in the property, “we knew there would be another movie theater.” He said he expects leases to be signed, renovations underway and movies showing “within six months,” which tracks with Goltz’s estimate for the first quarter of 2022.

Cue the projectionist!

Les Jacobson

Les is a longtime Evanstonian and RoundTable writer and editor. He won a Chicago Newspaper Guild best feature story award in 1975 for a story on elderly suicide and most recently four consecutive Northern...

14 replies on “Evanston movie theater on track for early 2022 reopening, says developer”

  1. Great article, Les. I miss working there so much ! When other theaters were closing, so many of our wonderful guests would tell me how much they love having a local theater. I always told them ” Believe me, I want this place to stay open as much,if not, more than you do! ” Gary Jacobson,aka. ” Mr. J “

  2. I live in Rockford…I have been coming down since 2009 to the films. Excellent theater and facilities. Used to love to go to Dixie Bait Shop and Cafe and the Barnes and Noble…saddley they are gone. Cannot wait for the movie theater to re-open. Independent and foreign films are my preference. Have made some really good friends at the theater.

  3. I have been missing my favorite movie theatre in Evanston. So glad to hear one is coming back. I always enjoyed the independent movies on the arts side of the Century theatre so collaborating with the Music Box Theatre sounds like a great idea.

  4. How about live theater & comedy improv space to bring back some healing from all the social distancing we’ve been practicing.
    Therese McKearnan , Evanston

    1. Isn’t Northlight already opening up a live theater space in 2024 around the corner from there at 1012-16 Church Street

  5. This great news. I hope for a collaboration between the Music Box and a commercial theater. Not only would that ensure independent film screenings but the Music Box has marketing chops. It has done an exemplary job of staying relevant – and a afloat! – during the pandemic.

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