Chicago Filmmakers is officially firehouse owner

After more than two years in the works, Chicago Filmmakers on Friday closed on its purchase of the city-owned Chicago landmark firehouse in Edgewater and will start converting it into a center for diversity and literacy in media arts and major hub for the independent film community.

Chicago Filmmakers submitted the winning proposal to purchase the 5,892-sq. ft. firehouse for $36,000 and to commit more than $600,000 towards a top-to-bottom renovation of the building that’s been vacant since the firefighters moved out in 2008.

“On behalf of our entire Edgewater community, I’m very excited that Chicago Filmmakers will breathe new life into the firehouse. We look forward to many years of community partnership,” says Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), who’d made a commitment to ensure the building would be redeveloped for the cultural benefit of the community.

Renovation is scheduled to start in March for six to eight months.

“We have a lot of work to do in the new space, and a lot of money to raise to convert the firehouse,” says Brenda Webb, Chicago Filmmakers’ founder/executive director of the 43-year old nonprofit.

So far, approximately $300,000 has been raised through Chicago Filmmakers’ board of directors.  An additional challenge grant will match all individual contributions dollar-for-dollar up to a total of $100,000.  The crowd-funding campaign will start this spring.

When renovated, the new facility’s first floor will be converted into a screening room with up to 99 seats.  A concession stand and washroom will be built just inside the main entrance off the alley. An elevator will be installed for complete access.

The second floor will have classrooms and the basement will be used mostly for storage. The property’s parking lot includes 15 spaces.

The firm of Architecture and Design designed the new space and Finnegan Development will complete the buildout. Legal service was provided pro bono by the law firm of Holland & Knight. 

Until the new arts center is completed, the organization will continue to operate in its space of 20 years in Andersonville.