New Des Plaines Theater Owners Consider Restoration

posted by btkrefft on December 8, 2003 at 6:17 am

CHICAGO, IL — According to the Chicago Tribune, brothers Dhitu and Dharmesh Bhagwakar, who purchased the Des Plaines Theater last month from Mount Prospect National Bank, and who previously managed the theater until its closure this past spring, intend to reopen the former vaudeville house soon, showing a mix of first-run East Indian and second-run Hollywood films on the theater’s two screens.

However, before they commit to begin a restoration of the Des Plaines, which might run anywhere from $4 to 6 million, they want to be sure they have the support of the community first, with both donations and patronage. Furthermore, the Bhagwakars have not given their approval to list the theater on the National Register of Historic Places, for which the Des Plaines was nominated in October. Only after the brothers have sent a letter to the National Register for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency will the theater be listed.

Some Des Plaines city officials don’t see the theater being a viable part of downtown any longer, including Jeff Ullett, chairman of the city’s Economic Development Commission, who believes the site would be more profitable with something new replacing the Des Plaines. “The theater might have outlived its usefullness,” Ullett said. “For downtown redevelopment, we recommend the entire downtown be redeveloped.”

Meanwhile, the Des Plaines Theater Preservation Society is still going forward with plans to raise support to transform the 1926 movie house into a performing arts venue, with a fundraiser in conjunction with the Silent Film Society of Chicago on December 13th at the Pickwick Theatre in neighboring Park Ridge. Buster Keaton’s silent classic “The General” will be screened there with live organ accompaniment.

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