MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's Department of City Development has issued a request for proposals to redevelop Villa Theater located at 3608 W. Villard Avenue.
According to a press release from Villard Avenue Business Improvement District, the hope is to select a developer who can restore the historic landmark with a proposal that aligns with the visions and values of the community.
“It is our hope that the movie theater will be a catalytic development such as the open-air theater rendering that was re-envisioned in our historic Virtual Charrette during the summer of 2020. We would like to see it continue on with its long tradition of being able to house all kinds of entertainment such as cinema & film, performance, comedy, music, and dance,” said Villard BID Director Angelique Sharpe.
The theater was built as an independent cinema in 1926 and had adjacent retail space and offices which over the years have been occupied by a barber, a doctor, a typewriter store, a gift shop, and even as residences from 1925 until the end of World War II.
Marcus Theaters owned the theater for some time, as well as a local couple who operated it as a second-run house, a first-run cinema, and finally a community theater before selling in 1995. Since then, it has been home to a salon, a church, a book store, and a school. However, as of late, it has been vacant.
The city began accepting proposals on Tuesday for the estimated $2 million renovation project.
Villard Avenue BID will be hosting a developers forum to showcase development opportunities. The event will feature tours of the theater, as well as a panel discussion with industry experts.
The news release says the theater has lots of development potential, but it will need a lot of work. Villard Avenue BID said it will require restoration and renovation to allow for full occupancy, improvement, and modernization.
“The impending redevelopment of the historic Villard Theater is expected to be one of the most significant investments on Villard Avenue, but also for the far North West side of Milwaukee, and the city as a whole," said 1st District Alderman Ashanti Hamilton.
To view renovation specs and submit a proposal, click here.