Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ten Million Dollars Towards Renovation Of Uptown Theater? Could Happen

a sketch of the theater
from 1926
It's been a rather ignoble year for the Uptown Theater, what with the giant icicle in the basement, the trips to housing court, and the gas being turned off.

But it just got a very, very nice gift from the State of Illinois: the possibility of Ten Million Dollars to go towards the theater's renovation.

It all depends on how the State Senate votes. The current session ends on May 31st, so we'll know very soon whether it will happen.

It's not the $70 million that's been projected for a complete overhaul of the theater, but it would be a real nice down payment and a kickstarter for the project if it passes.

From the Tribune:
The Illinois House approved ... a $10 million pork-barrel grant for the Uptown Theatre on Wednesday as lawmakers churned through more budget bills in their push to beat a midnight Saturday adjournment deadline.

State lawmakers began stepping on the pedal as they advanced measures on issues... The infusion of cash for Chicago teachers and the Uptown money are part of the deal making that went into putting together a budget that can pass the Democratic-led House and Senate.

As for the Uptown Theatre money, Chicago Democratic Sen. Heather Steans, a budget point person, said it was a request made in negotiations by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. Steans, whose district includes the shuttered theater, said the well-known event site needs the money for upgrading so it can reopen as part of a broader plan to spur development in the neighborhood.

“It is dilapidated building, but it is one that has a lot of historical significance,” Steans said. “It’s one of the landmarks there in the music community. It’s a hugely needed project.”

Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon confirmed the Senate president reassigned $10 million from a prior year’s appropriation that had gone unused and put it toward the Uptown site because “he really believes the theater can be a centerpiece” in the attempts to attract business and tourism to the neighborhood.
The Sun-Times is a little more succinct:
The Illinois House has approved legislation that ... includes spending to help in the renovation of the Uptown Theater....

The legislation is part of a $31 billion capital construction program that lawmakers approved in 2009. The package was largely paid for through legalizing video poker, raising taxes on candy, liquor and beauty products and by privatizing the Illinois lottery.

The legislation was approved Wednesday. It next heads to the Illinois Senate.

It contains a $10 million renovation of Chicago's Uptown Theatre.


  1. This calls for an IrishPirate musical link. Arguably, the best cover of the Beatles "Long Long Long".

    [Verse 1]
    It's been a long long long time
    How could I ever have lost you
    When I loved you

    I love the smell of legislative Uptown linked appropriations in the morning..........smells like VICTORY!

    If only I could twerk as well as Littleton........alas.

  2. Awesome news for the neighborhood.

  3. Why has this not been proposed as a site for the Star Wars Museum ... Lucas could fix it up right proper

  4. According to Ald. Cappleman, it was -- and so were some other sites. The advisory committee chose the lakefront near Soldier Field instead. (Boo.)

  5. Too bad Hizzoner, the former mayor Daley completely axed plans by the Ilich Family of Detroit, which at that time, in the 90s, had purchased this magnificent building and were willing and well-able to do a complete restoration without one thin dime of public money.

    But Hizzoner did not want the competition to his downtown theater district, and was thereby able to legally prevent someone who owned a decrepit property from spending his own money to improve it.

    Criminal, absolutely criminal. It makes me grind my teeth just to think about it. While I'd rather spend public money on this than about a thousand other things we blow it on, the fact remains that it is not, strictly speaking, an appropriate use of public money, especially in these times of massive public deficits in both Chicago and the State of IL.

    I mean, I'm glad, but it should not be necessary and wouldn't have been if we had done the right thing to begin with.