Developer seeks to revive Times Theater, restore Modern Art architecture
ROCKFORD – The Times Theater was one of the few single screen cinemas to operate in Rockford during the 1960s and 1970s, when Tom Giamalva was just a child.
It had opened in Jefferson Street and Main Street in 1938 with a screening of “Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry”, starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland. Although it was revived for a short time as a cabaret and then a nightclub, it has been decades since the theater was used to screen films and has been closed for 20 years.
Today, Joseph James Partners is seeking public funding that could help breathe new life into the long-vacant theater. The company is seeking a state grant of $ 3 million to cover the estimated cost of more than $ 14 million of the redevelopment of the property.
Giamalva – the former owner of Palace Shoe Repair which closed in March after 95 years in business – hopes the project will be successful and builds on the momentum of a resurgent Rockford town center.
“The Times was a bit simpler compared to a few other theaters, but it was wonderful in there,” Giamalva said. “I remember when I was a kid eating at a restaurant here.”
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Nearly 200 people had signed a change.org petition supporting the grant request on Monday afternoon.
Joseph James President Peter Provenzano, who is also the CEO of SupplyCore, plans to renovate the theater into a multi-purpose facility and entertainment venue that can accommodate 650-900 people for concerts, plays, comedy shows and occasional movies.
It is planned to restore the Art Moderne architecture of the autorium and the hall while adding a new balcony that can accommodate 150 people. There would be room for a take-out restaurant and a lounge with an auxiliary stage.
Provenzano said public investment is needed to complete the type of historic renovation he is considering, bringing together local and state officials for a press conference announcing his search for a grant for the reconstruction of city centers and streets major Illinois.
Provenzano said the theater could meet the need for a niche theater in the downtown entertainment market, while attracting more visitors and activities.
State Representative Maurice West, State Senator Steve Stadelman and Winnebago County Board Chairman Joseph Chiarelli were on hand to support the grant application with Rockford Aldermen Tim Durkee, R- 1, Chad Tuneberg, R-3, and Mark Bonne, D- 14.
“Bringing new life to The Times Theater will not only revitalize the downtown area, but also improve our Theater District,” West said.