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Local News

Rialto board votes for new plan for marquee on Joliet theatre

JOLIET – Most of the marquee rejected after a community backlash now will go on the back of the Rialto Square Theatre building.

The Rialto board voted Wednesday for a new solution to the theater’s marquee problem.

“I believe this proposal is the path forward to resolve the marquee issue,” board Chairman Dan Vera said while announcing the new plan.

Vera said the new plan, which includes upgrading the old marquee on the front of the theater, should be completed by the Rialto’s 90th anniversary celebration in May 2016.

The Rialto will modernize the existing marquee with LED lighting while maintaining its 1920s-era appearance. But the theater will seek bids for the job rather than try to use LED panels from the newly built marquee in the old sign, which had been the previous plan.

Vera said that retrofit job would have been costly and there was a chance of uneven lighting and colors when it was done.

The result is that the Rialto will spend about $217,000, according to theater officials, which was to go to the new marquee for a sign that will go on the back of the building facing Scott Street.

Rialto officials said they will find out when bids come in what it will cost to upgrade both the old marquee and the vertical sign that accompanies it, a project that was to be funded with a $350,000 donation that was given back when theater officials decided against moving forward with the new marquee.

That marquee already has been built by Landmark Sign Group, which will bolt the front face of the sign to the back of the building. The design faced community opposition from those who said it was too gaudy and too dramatic a change from the classic look of the existing marquee.

The Rialto board eventually created a marquee committee, which recommended the theater modernize but keep the existing marquee while using part of the new sign on the back of the building.

The latest plan has the advantage of adding LED panels to the back-of-the-building sign. The panels can be used for a message board to sell advertising.

“I believe it’s a win-win for everybody, and it’s going to make us some money,” said Joliet Councilwoman Jan Quillman, who first suggested using part of the new sign on the back of the building.

While it may be the back of the theater, the Scott Street side actually has more exposure to traffic, said Rialto General Manager Randy Green. Not only is there more automobile traffic on Scott Street than on Chicago Street, which passes the front of the Rialto, but the back of the building also faces Metra commuter rail lines, Green said.

With the upgrade of the old marquee also adding a message board, Green said, “It’s almost like we’re going to get into the advertising business now.”

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