iO Considering a Move from Wrigleyville to Lincoln Square

By Mike Fourcher | Thursday, July 8, 2010

iO Theater's marquee. Photo by Kris Arnold.

The owner of the internationally known improvisational comedy center, iO Theater, is considering a move to Lincoln Square. “I like the alderman and he wanted me there,” said Charna Halpern. “I think it’s a hip neighborhood.”

First reported by CBS 2 Chicago, iO Theater (formerly known as the Improv Olympic), must leave Wrigleyville to make room for a recently approved new hotel development across from Wrigley Field.

The addition of iO, currently at 3541 N. Clark Street, would create a new entertainment destination for Lincoln Square on par with the Davis Theater and the Old Town School of Folk Music.

“The alderman has met with iO leaders, and he’s very excited to work on bringing [the theater company] to Lincoln Square or the Ravenswood community,” said Robert Rawls, spokesman for Ald. Eugene Schulter (47th).

Despite her interest in the neighborhood, Halpern is having trouble finding an appropriately sized space.

“I need to buy a building that is big enough—18,000 to 20,000 square feet,” said Halpern. “There was a building I looked at in Lincoln Square, but the owner won’t come down. He won’t come down from $3 million, and it’ll take $3 million to build out. That would have worked, but it isn’t feasible,” said Halpern.

“It would be the smart move. Old Town is here and this neighborhood has a lot of creative types. I think [iO Theater] stands a good chance for growth if it comes to this neighborhood,” said iO veteran and neighborhood comedian Monte LeMonte.

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