RIC is working with a committed group of residents and community stakeholders to re-imagine the historic Grand Theater on Holton Street as an affordable, community-based performance center provide the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods with a world class, affordable rehearsal, performance and event space.
A Grand Past
The Grand was originally built in 1911, making it one of the city’s oldest cinema. It was a movie theater until 1975, and then used as a church until 2015. The building, now owned by the city, attracted the interest of many of Riverwest’s performer residents. An idea took rot: could this abandoned building provide affordable performance and rehearsal space Milwaukee’s community arts groups needed?
Imagining the Future
Simultaneously the Riverwest Investment Cooperative (RIC) began looking for a new project. Although mainly focused on residential investments up to this point, RIC realized that in order for the neighborhood to be in control of its development, the neighborhood would have to have a say in the development of its commercial corridors.
Throughout 2017, RIC began meeting with a core team of neighborhood organizers and stakeholders. This spring, the Milwaukee Common Council approved RIC’s proposal for a one-year exclusive right to negotiate the purchase of the building. We’ve contracted with the architects at American Design to develop a plan for remodeling and redesigning the building. Now comes the hard part: raising the money needed to make the Grand Imagination a reality!
Where Will Grand Imagination Take You?
This project is unique in that there will be both a nonprofit and for-profit component of the project’s development and operation:
RIC and its members will own the building, invest in its redevelopment, and pay property taxes. Once the building phase is done, RIC will lease the building to a nonprofit entity which will manage the building’s day to day operation and programming.
Right now the Riverwest Artists’ Association is acting as RIC’s non-profit partner and fiscal agent.