CHICAGO — The historic Avalon Regal Theater sat mostly unused since 2008, but its newest owner says it could soon reopen its doors thanks in no small part to $1 million in support from Kanye West.
Owner Jerald Gary has committed to bringing the 91-year-old South Shore theater back to life, and the effort got a big boost in September when Kanye West pledged to help make the vision become a reality.
Gary said during an appearance on WVON that West is following through on his word, and recently committed to investing $1 million into the project. He said the Chicago native has already provided enough funding to get the electricity and other basic utilities turned on.
“We’re very excited and it’s been a long time coming, and we’re happy that someone has finally stepped up to the plate,” Gary told WVON on February 22.
West first announced he was lending his support during a September trip to Chicago. He stopped by the theater with Chance the Rapper and his wife Kim Kardashian during the trip, and also visited with Ald. Michelle Harris at City Hall to lobby for the project.
— The Avalon Regal Theater (@AvalonRegal) September 13, 2018
It wasn’t the only commitment West made to Chicago during the trip. He also posted to social media saying he would open a studio for his shoe brand Yeezy and build “DONDA schools” in the city. He’s also previously said that he plans to move back to Chicago as well.
The visit also took place while crews were filming the next season of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and Gary says the theater will also be featured in the show’s season premiere on March 31.
Gary grew up in the South Shore neighborhood, and bought the crumbling theater for $100,000 in 2014, according to the Sun-Times. To fully fund the project, Gary said they will issuing bonds people can purchase to invest in the theater, going live on the day of the “Kardashians” premiere.
Photo from the "Let's reopen the Avalon Regal Theater!" meeting this morning with Governor Rauner, Avalon Regal Theater Owner Jerald Gary, Omari Kamul of Community Capital, Tonya Trice of South Shore Chamber of Commerce and Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago! pic.twitter.com/l9soSfY4xs
— Preservation Chicago: Love Your City Fiercely! (@Pres_Chicago) October 10, 2018