Saturday, December 9, 2017

Tantalizingly Close (But No Cigar) - 2015 Plan To Revive Uptown Theater Scuttled

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What's up with the Uptown Theater?

That's the eternal question. Most people who have been inside it want it to be revived. Others question whether it will ever happen. City planners see it as a crown jewel that will attract people from all over to Uptown.

But right now, it sits.

Crain's did an article this week that reveals that a plan was in place to revive the beautiful shuttered building in 2015... but claims it was scuttled when Mayor Emanuel replaced the staff of Chicago Infrastructure Trust, the agency that had spearheaded the plan.

It's very sad to read for those of us who want to see the theater become relevant again. The plan would have transformed the massive building "into a multipurpose entertainment complex offering concerts, movies, dining and more. With tenants identified and a financing model in place, it was the closest the Uptown, once one of the largest movie palaces in the world, had ever come to a genuine resurrection."

It's a long article and difficult to summarize, so we highly recommend reading it yourself if you're interested in the future of this theater. It's here: A deal to save Uptown Theatre was all set. Until it wasn't.

For those who will say, "Tear it down!" -- it's landmarked as part of the Uptown Square District, so that won't happen.

In a comment, Ald. Cappleman says, "All the discussion I have had with the Mayor's Office, the Dept. of Planning & Development, and the current owner is on restoring this building. People rightfully ask for a timeline, but because there have been too many false promises made, nothing will be said until everything is in place to make this happen. 

This is a heavy lift but I'm committed to making this a reality. Anyone who has ever been inside it quickly understands why it must be restored."

If you've never been inside, we recommend the 2006 film short, Uptown: Portrait of a Palace, free on Vimeo.


  1. Interesting. Too bad Rahmbo funded the Depaul Arena before this. Depaul Arena is not actually as bad a deal as pundits suggest. There's a need for a domed stadium at McCormick Place.

    Sadly, it should have been the renovated Soldier Field and not the new arena. Daley blew that one.

    Rahm oh Rahm. Why focus your rabbit like attention span on an express train to O'Hare when something simpler, less expensive and more glorious is so tantalizingly doable?

    The world's largest and most glorious movie theater/concert venue will garner him more of the accolades and attention he desires than an express train that mimics what dozens of other major cities already have.

    Imagine the Emmy Awards hosted at the Uptown. The Golden Globes. The IrishPirate Film Festival known as the "I Pee" for short.

    The Grand Reopening of Uptown Fundraiser featuring Harrison Ford as the Master of Ceremonies and Dan Akroyd introducing "The Blues Brothers" to a packed house at $1000-5000 a ticket. Followed by "Call Northside 777" introduced by a giant Rabbit mocking the Jimmy Stewart character.

    Perhaps and this is a stretch given our winter weather The Academy Awards being hosted at the Uptown.

    It's too bad Prince Harry is getting married soon or he could hold his nuptials there. Ok, I could see some flack for it NOT being Britain and all but we could declare it the UK Embassy for the day. Ok, ok, I admit that won't happen.

    Seriously, the Capplemaniac will have to and will keep plugging away at this and eventually it will be renovated and reopened. I hope it happens within the next few years, but perhaps it will happen later after he's racked up a few more electoral wins and grey hairs.

    The arc of history is long and tends toward justice.......I've been in Uptown for three decades+.....a few more years ain't, LIKELY, gonna kill me.

  2. You've got the grandest theater in American sitting in the middle of a crime infested rathole at a time when Hollywood and movie theaters are dying and the hottest shows in the neighborhood are Hispanic boy bands at the Aragon Brawlroom. As much as I treasure the Uptown as the biggest time capsule ever, I can't imagine anything in its future besides destruction.

    1. I think a renovated Uptown will host shows similar to the Chicago Thester, and not those currently hosted by Aragon or Riviera. IF, and that is a huge IF, a demolition permit was ever applied for, so many people from around the country would protest it. My biggest fear would be something like fire doing even more damage. The lobby is actually really nice still.