Currently located at the corner of Clark and Addison, the theater — originally known as ImprovOlympic when it was co-founded by Halpern and improv guru
Halpern has been on the hunt for a new space for a few years now, ever since redevelopment plans were announced for the building she currently leases from cousin Steve Schultz.
"We needed to find a new home," Halpern said Friday. "And I figured if we're going to do it, might as well do it big. We are busting at the seams as it is." The new building — a North Side warehouse space that is presently home to a furniture retailer and a bakery — has about 33,000 square feet of available space, which is twice as big as iO's current venue.
Halpern says she plans to build four theater spaces of 200 seats each, one of which will be programmed by longtime Chicago improv favorites TJ Jagodowski and
Roughly 300-400 performers can be seen on stage during any given month at iO, which was founded 30 years ago. Like Second City, it has become an iconic comedy training ground that has been home to the likes of
The new venue is estimated to be a $6 million project; construction is expected to start in April with an eye toward opening in early 2014.