South Shore’s historic Avalon Regal Theater is gearing up for the spotlight with help from Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
Owner Jerald Gary said the rapper has committed $1 million to reopening the 91-year-old movie palace, which has been mostly vacant for nearly a decade.
Gary also said the theater will be featured in the upcoming season premiere of the hit reality TV show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” airing March 31 on E!
West has made regular appearances on the show since marrying Kardashian in 2014. The couple visited the theater alongside Chance the Rapper in September, days after West tweeted he and others would “restore the Regal Theater.”
Details of West’s involvement in the theater have been kept under wraps. Representatives for West did not respond to emails from the Sun-Times.
Gary, for the first time, put a dollar amount behind West’s name on Friday.
“Kanye West has committed to investing $1 million into the Regal Theater project and has already invested enough for us to get some of the basic utilities on in the building, such as the electricity,” Gary told Perri Small of WVON 1690-AM. “We’re very excited, it’s a long time coming, and we’re happy that someone has stepped up to the plate.”
Gary refused to elaborate on Monday when pressed for specifics on West’s investment or the status of building repairs.
“We look forward to opening later this year with a bang,” he said.
Gary, who grew up in South Shore, bought the crumbling theater for $100,000 in 2014. He previously said he’s poured “over $1 million” in getting the 2,250-seat theater back into shape.
Gary has tried several times over the past five years to entice investors to join him in bringing the theater back to life. West’s involvement in the project signals the first real shot of opening the Avalon Regal Theater to the public since 2010.
“I am thrilled to have Kanye’s support as I work to reopen this landmark venue to the community and world,” Gary said in a note to the Sun-Times in September. “His global impact and influence can bring much needed positive attention to Chicago’s South Shore community.”
The Avalon Theater opened in 1927 as a movie palace. It later became a live music venue and was renamed the New Regal Theater in 1987 in tribute to Bronzeville’s Regal Theater, which closed in 1968.
The Avalon Regal Theater received Chicago Landmark status in 1992.
The last season premiere of the Kardashians in August pulled in 1.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen.