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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Chicago's Uptown Theatre Faces Uncertain Future

A discussion thread about Chicago's endangered Uptown Theatre on the website Cinema Treasures includes some distressing information about the removal of terra cotta ornament in the last two months.

One poster shared a segment from the e-mail newsletter the Uptown Advisor, which is put out by the Friends of the Uptown group that is trying to get the theater reopened:

The ABCs of 'What is going on with the UPTOWN'

Reportedly, the current status of the UPTOWN THEATRE is, in brief:

A. The work, fences, scaffolding and barricades that you see today are part of the continuing exterior stabilization effort. In order to begin remedying the building's deferred maintenance, many bricks and pieces of ornamental terra cotta must be removed and stored for safekeeping. Where parts of the building's facade are removed, the area is strapped and bagged to hold it in place -- and covered to weatherproof it.

B. The work is being done by an engineering firm and a masonry contractor. The project is being overseen by local officials, a circuit court judge and the court-appointed receiver.

C. The privately owned UPTOWN THEATRE building remains closed, vacant, secure and in serious need of significant private investment for it to be renovated as an entertainment venue. No definitive plan or project for the building has been announced. The search for a viable entertainment prospect continues. Several state and local incentives are available—including city tax-increment financing—for a feasible plan that meets civic criteria and expectations for the multi-venued Uptown Square National Register Historic District. Serious inquiries (only) should be directed to local officials, including the alderman, the city planning department, and UPCORP.

Yet another old building suffering through the thoughtless development program of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's administration.

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