ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Times Theater, on N. Main Street, which has sat empty for 20 years, has won $3 million in state grants to undergo a $16 million restoration project.

The plan is to bring the historic theater on N. Main Street back to life by turning it into a multi-use entertainment venue.

“This is kind of that sweet spot, we call it a mid-size. It’s actually, probably, in the broad scheme of things, still considered small, but between Nordlof and Coronado, it’s kind of right in the middle,” said Peter Provenzano, President of Joseph James Partners, in December 2021. “So, it just rounds out the offering that we have down here to be able to bring more acts. If we can program this thing at least a couple more nights a week, I think that will be a really big deal.”

More than 1,200 people signed a petition asking the state for a $3 million grant, which Illinois Gov. Pritzker included in a $106 million Rebuild Illinois Downtowns and Main Streets Capital Program, using funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

“We are very grateful to Governor Pritzker and our local delegation for awarding the City of Rockford more than $5 million in DCEO Rebuilding Downtowns and Main Streets grants,” said Mayor McNamara. “More than $3 million will go towards renovating the historic Times Theater and $2 million will go towards Madison Street corridor improvements including, resurfacing Madison Street from E. State Street to Prairie Street, replacing over 100-year-old water main, sidewalk and bicycle improvement, and streetscape improvements.”

The Times first opened in 1938, and the group hopes to reopen theater doors in 2023.