Monday, June 8, 2009

Uptown Theatre Discussed: Drama Ensues

Seems there's some conflict over how to use the Uptown Theatre in its next incarnation.

"What I thought would be a mild Edgewater residents’ meeting got a little brittle last Wednesday.

Edgewater Development Council and Edgewater residents met to vote on the historic rehab of the Uptown Theater and its use as an entertainment facility.

A representative of the developer was in attendance, and Jim Wiggins (spelling?) expressed outrage that Alderman Mary Ann Smith wouldn’t meet with him. He wouldn’t respond, however, to her chief of staff’s response that the developer has reneged on a promise to deposit $5MM in escrow for the building’s facade restoration."

Read the whole thing here at the blog of Anne Rossley, Uptown realtor and commentator.


  1. This amount of money to rehab a grand old building is nice but I would rather see the uptown area get attention to getting rid of all the low-lifes and gangs that surround this structure....

  2. The floor seating is going to have to come out for it really to be a viable concert venue, there isn't a way around that unfortunately.

    If the alderwoman and JAM can come to an agreement on that followed by JAM putting up the 5M for their end I don't have any problem with them receiving the bulk of the money needed from the TIF district.

    The Uptown deserves to be saved, if a few compromises have to be brokered so be it.

  3. Some might argue that providing a community resource as large and significant as a revived Uptown Theater would do just that. Urban planning and design done well, tends to deter crime by its very nature.

  4. I saw Mary Ann Smith is wrong in this case.

    The Uptown is the white elephant in the room.

    JAM is in the drivers seat on this one especially in this economy.

    If Daley didn't put the 5mm down she won't have any problem bending over backwards to work with him.

  5. Uptown completed by 2016- would give all of those Olympic folks a place to go-

    Yeah right.....

  6. I spoke with someone working in Uptown theater a few months back. The plan is to make the seats into "pallets" that can be moved in and out quickly depending on the show/artist.

  7. I think everyone would love to have the Uptown Theater restored even though it appears to be too big to have any economic viability. The problem is distribution of scarce resources. In the north part of Mary Ann's realm, we have been the recipient of $0 in assistance which has been showered in unlimited quantities for the entertainment district. We need help and the Uptown is a like to have - not a need to have. Respectfully, if we could get some money help for the first business on Thorndale and Granville opposition would vanish. Spending more money on the Uptown Theater which has been spent lavishly on before (all failures) when we've gotten nothing is not fair and isn't going to play well. Remember, we've gotten $0 total in assistance. Millions have been spent on Broadway south of Foster. Just hold off...please...

    Sheridan Road hasn't gotten much either. Equity needs to play out. The Theater needs to be restored in due time.

  8. Also, a lot of us still have a bad taste in our mouths stemming from the scandal a few years ago regarding an Uptown "restoration committee's" misuse of donated funds (from myself among others).

  9. Don't you think part of the demise of the Uptown neighborhood came about because developers/Alderman just said to hell with preserving history and architecture, just plaster over everything and pretend it didn't exist? There is always crime and gangs wherever you go, you can't just hold off on development and commerce until those issues go away- they don't. If we did that there would never be any progress. We need to find a balance to both preserve and better the neighborhood and clean it up. The theatre can be viable if managed and restored properly.

    There are 2 bus lines and the red line that basically drops you off in front of the place so I don't get why people at the meeting are complaining about parking for the place. There are plenty of parking lots in Uptown and Edgewater - too many in my opinion We do live in Chicago, not in the burbs.

  10. The Uptown has seen an unfortunate string of events that have kept rehab efforts from reaching fruition. I support the marginal use of TIF for this project as it seems to meet the original TIF criteria (passes the but-for test, will increase tax revenues with ticket/concession sales, should reduce crime within a small area and help a blighted local).

    Some have tried to restore the Uptown with little success, I fear there is an undercurrent of 'what's in it for me' by our local government. That never happens, does it? pppbbbbbt!

  11. I understand the bad taste some may have from Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, a 501(c)3 that raised and wasted $1.5 million but never had anything to with the building. It was VERY UNFORTUNATE but under Illinois law, allowable. For example, you and I could say we were going to put the nose back on the Sphinx and raise money toward that goal but we never have to go to Egypt and we don't have to solve The Riddle.