Downers Grove approves plan to expand Tivoli Theatre
The Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove is on track to open a new intimate screening room as early as January or February.
Classic Cinemas, which operates the Tivoli, last week received a special use permit from Downers Grove to build a 32-seat theater in the historic 1928 building. The state-of-the-art screening room will be built into an adjacent storefront to the west of the Tivoli's main entrance at 5021 Highland Ave.
"We're all pretty excited and wish the Tivoli enterprise the best of luck," Downers Grove Mayor Bob Barnett said before a unanimous vote of approval at the Nov. 17 council meeting.
Chris Johnson, a co-CEO of Classic Cinemas, expects construction permits to be issued this week and for work to last about eight weeks.
Johnson is pushing ahead with the project, even though most theaters are shuttered due to another spike of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the nation.
"The uncertainty is only in weeks and months -- not years," said Johnson, citing encouraging news of COVID-19 vaccines and distribution on the horizon.
"We're looking forward to (the new theater)," said Debbie Venezia of the After Hours Film Society, which has been renting the Tivoli on select Monday evenings since 1999 to screen foreign and art house films. "Hopefully, it will give the Tivoli extra flexibility with bookings."
Though Johnson declined to share the cost of the new theater, he did boast that it will feature "the latest and greatest technology." This includes an eight-channel digital surround sound system, laser projection and a special matte white screen.
As for the new theater's aesthetics, Johnson said some of the interior decorations are inspired by the Tivoli's 1,050-seat main theater. Johnson said the exterior will look similar to a storefront space on the Tivoli's north side that was converted into an expanded women's restroom in 2002.
The new auditorium also will feature heated recliners similar to ones installed in the renovated Classic Cinemas in Beloit, Wisconsin.
"We're not just shoehorning in a dinky little theater next to a big theater," Johnson said. "People will really enjoy the experience."