Sunday, March 16, 2008

More Hope For The Uptown?

From Today's "Theater Loop" Chicago Tribune

"The arrival of Chicago newcomers MSG Entertainment and C3 led the longtime Chicago-based promoter Jam to move to hold the mortgage to the troubled Uptown Theatre, 4814 N. Broadway, if only as a defensive position. But if the City of Chicago were to acquire the Uptown under eminent domain — as many of the theater’s boosters desire — that could open the way for a different entity to take over the venue, possibly the concert promoter Live Nation, which could use its own mid-size indoor venue. According to sources familiar with the current rearrangement of the Chicago live-entertainment business, a restored and reopened Uptown is looking more likely now than in recent history.

According to a recent report in Billboard, midsize venues such as the Chicago, Congress and Uptown have been showing particular strength of late. Billboard said that Radio City Music Hall rung up $87.6 million in concert grosses during 2007."(photo courtesy "Flickr")


  1. I'm extremely cautious of getting overly optimistic, but ... everything we've heard lately about the Uptown has been positive. Surprisingly, with the economy, but let's keep our fingers crossed.

  2. None of this is new news; it's the same thing the Trib and Sun Times have been saying for a year.

  3. Gee...thanks Debbie Downer.

  4. If the City takes over the property via emiment domain we are all screwed. It is a minimum of $30,000,000 to restore and will cost many millions more to continue to run. It is not ecomomically viable and the city should let it go. It was built in less than a year and all of the beautiful interior was plaster of paris. It is overhyped that this is some special monument that needs to be saved.

    If fully restored how much positive economic impact can it really have? How many full time jobs can a venue create?

    2 years ago before an election the alderman was promising something in the works. Nothing has changed.

  5. Anonymous 9:02 are you a moron or do you just play one on this blog?

    Geniuses such as yourself decried the benefits of Millennium Park and the renovated theaters downtown. Seems like they were WRONG.

    Make no small plans and date no women under the age of 18 is my motto.

    If the city acquired the Uptown it won't cost $30 million. It would cost a few million and then the city would search for some corporation to sell it to. That corporation would receive various tax incentives and monies to fund the renovation. Which by the way, MO RON, would likely cost closer to $50 million.

    I don't know if the Uptown is economically viable. I do know that you don't know. Which is more than you know. Don't cha know?

    There is little harm in waiting a few years to see if something can be done with it. The housing market is slow and tearing it down and turning it into condos AINT gonna happen anytime soon.

    Perhaps it could be gutted and turned into a giant flea market?

    Start working on that, genius, and kiss my pale ass while you are at it.

    Some people should not be allowed to have computer access.

    Happy St. Patricks Day! I'm going to go get a hooker, a shamrock shake,and walk by the Uptown.

  6. For decades the Uptown Theatre dazzled crowds with its incredibly beautiful, highly ornate lobby and theatre. Even the washrooms were a sight to behold.

    It drew crowds for decades and even in the final years it was open for private parties, there remained a sense of awe at what she must have been in her hayday.

    And that's just the architecture, imagine the energy, the excitement and the impact on the community surrounding the Uptown Theatre in these glory days of Uptown?

    The Uptown was a massive draw, along with the Aragon and the Green Mill Jazz and Gardens, and the Clarendon Beach House, Uptown was THE PLACE for people to relax by the beach, enjoy a variety of entertainment, clubs, dancing and have a non-stop good time.

    There is a rich and wonderful history in this community that's ripe for a resurgance. And it is going to happen.

    If you have any doubts about the impact the restored and open Uptown Theatre will have, just take yourself over the Lincoln Square and look what happened when the Olde Town School of Folk Music came to the deserted Lincoln Ave.

    Start imaginingg the good things that are happening in Uptown.

  7. i refuse to be negative when it comes to the uptown theatre.

    this world is upsetting enough...why not think about all the good that COULD happen if the theatre were to reopen!?

    i am a regular visitor to, a website dedicated to keeping track of the histories, demolitions, and restorations of these old gems. trust a little reading, and some theatres were way past the uptown in the messed-up sense, and they came back to life.

    oh, and for those that are interested in seeing what should be saved (or torn down, if you want to be debby downers)you can watch the excellent documentary "uptown: portrait of a palace" in its entirety here:

  8. sorry. scroll down in the list of documentaries and hit play.

    carry on...

  9. I love Irish Pirate and he also makes me feel uncomfortable. One day I will buy him a beer while he tells me about the world and I grin nervously.

    Carry on.

  10. Christopher,

    I shouldn't make you nervous.

    I just have a low tolerance for people who post their opinion as fact.

    Cities either change and move forward or they slowly die.

    Nothing would ever happen if you took the anonymous 9:02 view of things. Change takes time. Decades even.

    I don't know if the Uptown is economically viable. I suspect it is, but I could be wrong. Time will tell and right now we have plenty of time to wait.

    I can remember when parts of Lincoln Park were nothing more than a gang infested slum. That is way back in the late 70's and into the 80's.

    Kenmore from 4000-4400 north may have been the most depressing and dangerous 4 blocks in the city outside a CHA highrise area. That changed.

    Uptown is changing for the better and will continue to change. What role the Uptown Theater may play in that remains to be seen.

    I suspect it will be substantial but that depends on the national economy which seems to be heading toward "Tidy Bowl" man range.


  11. IrishPirate re: Millennium park. The city sold the parking garages built there because of the revenue shortfall. We will be paying for that park with its huge overruns for over 30 years. Maybe you missed a press release somewhere.

  12. I didn't miss a press release and I know the numbers better than you. Not only am I seven feet tall and use redwood trees as toothpicks, but the average NASA scientists SAT score pales in comparison to mine. I am a legend in my own mind.

    Once you factor in hotels, tourism, additional shopping, additional taxes and more Millennium Park will more than pay for itself.

    Look at the demand for condos in that immediate area and the huge increase in property values. Did Millennium Park have anything to do with that? The rise is property values around there has been staggering even in this sorry economy.

    Please don't answer. I really am not interested in some anti development blather or talk about how Millennium Park was a huge boondoggle. It cost more than originally projected because it became a much larger project.

    Take your complaints to Mayor Luis or Mayor Jesse that is one of their main targets.

    I find Rich Daley to be a corrupt hack, but even a corrupt hack can get things right once in awhile.

    Remember the phrase "make no small plans"? This is Chicago not Cleveland or Butte Montana.

    Next time you are downtown, assuming you get let out of the asylum, count the cranes building hotels and ask yourself why?



  13. One thing I like about the Uptown Theater is that it is called THE UPTOWN THEATER not "Pepsodent Theater" or "Brylcreem Theater" or any other company that might have wanted their name on it. A woman in the documentary said that it is the icon of Uptown. I agree. For better or worse, it is us. (The wheeling-dealing, the history of neglect, the beauty and the foolish optimism make it so.) I hope it is always called The Uptown Theater.

  14. Saskia, I hope you're not as attached to the name "Wrigley Field" as you are "Uptown Theater." I suspect I'll be calling the former "The field formerly known as Wrigley" in the near future, and you should prepare yourself for the same with the Uptown if anyone buys it and rehabs it. I cite the Cadillac Palace, Ford, and LaSalle Bank theaters as evidence. It's all about the revenue and nothing more.

  15. I know, confused. I just needed to be a little wistful after viewing the documentary. And, I was also hoping that many other people felt the same way and that they would remember it when the inevitable name change comes.

    The Uptown Theater, presented by...


    Huge Corporation Presents: The Uptown Theater

    might be acceptable. *Sigh*

  16. i know it's not the same thing, but a bit of optimism from city hall: it was in the sun-times today that the new regal theatre (off of stony island...if you get off the skyway, you've probably seen it on your left hand side as you exit the skyway!) is going to have its back tax issue forgiven (over a million dollars) and turned over to new owners so that it can be opened. it is protected by some stipulations like (1) it must be used in a performing arts capacity for a minimum of ten years.

    since the uptown also has a similar problem (though i know it is much more in need of repair than the regal) we can hope the city will show the same kind of respect to potential buyers of our neighborhood palace.

    you can read the whole story here:,CST-FIN-regal14.article

    just some happier news to brighten our gray spring day!

  17. the regal is a beautiful theater as well. you can just see ghosts of the people who flocked there for night life in days gone by. i hope that a revitalized regal helps the residents of south chicago (that is the neighborhood it is in) as much as a revitalized Uptown Theater would help us.

  18. Old timers still call Waveland golf Course Waveland and not Marovitz Golf Course.