The La Grange Village Board of Directors on Monday unanimously approved an ordinance allowing the Classic Cinemas La Grange Theater to add three more auditoriums.
Ordinance, 80 S. La Grange Rd. Approved the special use permit, site plan and design review permit for the planned expansion of the business at .
“I’m excited,” said Chris Johnson, owner of Tivoli Enterprises, which operates the theater. “My goal for the theater was to do 180,000 people for the year, and I like to be a little prepared before this meeting, so I looked at it between September 25, 2022 and September 24, 2023, we did a theater for 180,800 people. .”
Classic Cinemas is a Downers Grove-based company that operates 16 movie houses, mostly in the Chicago area but some as far away as Beloit, Wisconsin and Freeport, Illinois.
Trustee Lou Gale explained to the Board the details of the ordinance, which can be found on the Village’s website. villageoflagrange.com 9-25-23 meeting agenda.
The planned expansion would include razing portions of 70-76 S. La Grange Road, currently occupied by Hot Dog and Burger Company and Prime Cuts. The planned addition to the theater building will include three new auditoriums, two with 73 seats and one with 39 seats.
The theater currently houses six theaters with a total of 318 seats.
On July 11, the Plan Commission unanimously recommended approval of the special use permit, design review permit and site plan, albeit with various conditions. Between them:
-the applicant (Classic Cinemas La Grange Theatre) must share with the Village a sample of the final façade materials, colors and textures. The sample provided will be subject to approval by the Village.
-applicant must record a shared parking agreement with neighbors at 60 S. La Grange Road (Hortons Ace Hardware and Home Lighting), reminiscent of shared parking agreements between the theater and Hortons.
Although members of the public asked questions about the impact of traffic, garbage collection and signage at that meeting, none objected to the plan.
Commissioners expressed some concern about the loss of 11 parking spaces in the lot between Theater and Hortons and the impact it would have on a downtown parking area.
Contacted later, Johnson was optimistic.
“I’m very happy it was approved,” he said. “I think this is a really good thing for the theater and for the community.”
Johnson said he is shooting for a summer 2024 opening.
“Now that we’re approved, we can go out to bid and find out what those lead times are,” he said, referring to the time it would take to procure materials such as prefabricated walls and steel.
However, he stated that the delivery times for the project were already long.
“If everything goes perfectly, which is rare, I would like to be open next summer,” he said. “That’s the goal, but I don’t know if that’s realistic yet… We were hoping to open Memorial Day 2022 for the first time. We did everything possible and opened Memorial Day 2022. My hope is that we repeat this for two years. Later.”
Hank Beckman is a freelance reporter for the Pioneer Press.