DOWNERS GROVE - A vote on Classic Cinemas’ plans to open a 33-seat theater in a vacant storefront property next to the Tivoli Theatre moved a bit closer to showtime at the Downers Grove Village Council Monday night when the village’s plan commission gave the proposal a positive recommendation.
The property, located at 5021 Highland Ave., requires special-use approval for an assembly and entertainment use in the village’s downtown business area.
The site was originally home to a candy store, but it was most recently used by Grove Travel.
Classic Cinemas has 15 locations in Illinois with 130 screens, and the company has been operating the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove since 1978.
Jason Zawila, planning manager for the village of Downers Grove, said that when staff reviewed Classic Cinemas’ plans, it found that the project complies with the village’s comprehensive plan and other key elements of the focus area in the downtown.
The proposal, pitched by Classic Cinemas CEO Chris Johnson, was met with a bit of fanfare.
“We appreciate the support,” Johnson said. “We do believe if we’re allowed to go forward, that will only enhance the experience.”
Johnson added that the plan provides added space to allow the Tivoli Theatre to play twice as many movies.
Though some people raised questions about Classic Cinemas’ plans for the existing parking lot, Johnson addressed the concerns.
“There won’t be any building that is not internal,” he said, negating the idea of further expansion plans in the parking lot. “We’re going to do a little bit of landscaping and tie in a storm water drain.”
The panel’s recommendation comes with a set of conditions requiring Classic Cinemas to substantially conform to the plans provided by its architect, ensure the build out does not affect the automatic suppression and the automatic/manual fire alarm systems, improve landscaping and storm water connection at northwest corner of the existing parking lot by May 15, 2021, and limit the capacity to no more than 1,048 seats.
The village council is expected to give consideration to Classic Cinemas’ plans at a later date.