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Double Door Gets Approval To Add Marquee To New Uptown Home, With Opening Eyed For Next Year

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UPTOWN — Double Door’s move to Uptown is becoming clearer after the rock club’s plans to renovate a historic theater were approved by the city’s landmarks commission.

The Chicago Landmarks Commission approved the Double Door project this month renovation of the Wilson Theater building at 1050 W. Wilson Ave. in the concert venue’s new location.

The venue’s owners plan to renovate the 1908 theater and add a sign and marquee modeled after Double Door’s iconic neon sign on its longtime Wicker Park home.

The vote marks a milestone in the year-long effort to reopen Double Door after his eviction from its Wicker Park headquarters in 2017 after 23 years.

Double Door’s move to Uptown was announced in 2019but protracted negotiations over the location — and the pandemic — have stalled the project, club co-owners Sean Mulroney and Pete Bruce previously said on the official Double Door podcast.

The project went ahead with internal works and demolition. Double Door has equal hosted a few shows inside.

“The demolition is going on,” Bruce said on the most recent episode of the Double Door podcast that came out in August. “We have a lot to do.”

Credit: Chicago Commission on Landmarks
Rendering of the marquee proposed for Double Door’s new Uptown headquarters.

Double Door will inhabit the Wilson Theater building that debuted in 1908 as a vaudeville performance venue. The building spent many decades as a bank until TCF Bank closed its branch in 2011. It has remained vacant ever since.

In restoring the theatre, Double Door will build a music venue with two mezzanine levels around the main floor, as well as a balcony and some VIP seating, Bruce previously told Block Club. The main venue will have an estimated capacity of 750 people.

A bank vault is the basement of the building that will be converted into a lounge with a bar. Bruce and Mulroney said on their podcast that they hired a safecracker to open the vault safe as they continue to renovate the theater.

“We’re going to use as many parts of the building and reuse them as much as possible,” Mulroney said on the podcast. “We’ll have fun.”

The venue will also have a 17-foot-tall sign, according to plans shared at the recent history committee meeting. Double Door’s owners previously said the sign could include branding or naming rights similar to Aragon Ballroom’s addition of Byline Bank to the sign.

There are also plans for a 31-foot-wide marquee that would advertise upcoming shows at the venue. The planners asked the Double Door team to lower the height of the marquee to keep it in line with the Uptown Square Historic District.

The location’s additions to the building’s facade required landmark commission approval due to its status as a contributing building to the National Historic District. The Wilson Theater building is the oldest surviving theater in the Uptown Historic District. It originally had a sign and a marquee, according to the city.

“This is a smaller theater than the other theaters in the district,” Joyce Ramos, the city’s conservation architect, said at the committee meeting. “We just wanted to keep the character of this marquee within the proportions of this building.”

Credit: Chicago Commission on Landmarks
Rendering of the proposed sign for Double Door’s new Uptown headquarters.

The Double Door team said they will work on reducing the height of the marquee. Both the marquee and the sign will have to return to the city for separate permits.

In a message, Bruce said Double Door’s plans still need further approval from the city and the issuance of building permits. The club is aiming for a summer opening, he said.

“If that doesn’t happen, then [we’ll have] a spectacular Halloween opener,” Bruce said.

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”:

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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