via Chicago Talks
by Chloe Riley
With 48th Ward Ald. Mary Ann Smith about to retire, and an owner who is hesitant to talk about the theater’s financial issues, the future of the Uptown Theater, a giant at 4,300 seats, looks shaky.
Located at 4816 N. Broadway St., the Uptown was built in 1925 by architects Rapp and Rapp, who also designed the Chicago Theater and Cadillac Palace Theater. The Uptown was designated a Chicago landmark in 1991.
Jerry Mickelson, of Jam Productions Ltd., bought the theater in 2008 for $3.2 million. Mickelson owns several well-known Chicago music venues, including the Rivera, The Vic, and the Park West.
Before Mickelson, the theater had been in and out of foreclosure since 1994. Prior to that, through the late ’80s and mid-’90s, the Uptown was owned by Lou Wolf, a slumlord and convicted arsonist who was dubbed “Chicago’s worst landlord” in 1989 by Chicago Magazine.
Mickelson was contacted multiple times with questions regarding the Uptown’s funding issues, but would only comment via e-mail.
“I have been trying to fit all the pieces of the funding puzzle together to renovate the Uptown Theater and am making some progress, but it is a very long road that requires an incredible amount of due diligence,” Mickelson said. Continue Reading