Uptown Theater

4816 North Broadway,
Chicago, IL 60640

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Showing 401 - 425 of 436 comments

sdoerr
sdoerr on December 11, 2003 at 11:17 pm

What a nice theatre, definitely a favorite.

PaulWarshauer
PaulWarshauer on October 24, 2003 at 10:43 am

The scaffolding around the Uptown Theatre came down today. The scaffolding folks have not been paid and a judge ordered it removed. The case lingers in building court with the City of Chicago searching for the legal owner. The owner is bankrupt. (FYI: He is not bankrupt because of this project.) The UTCA mentioned earlier in this posting (Morrison, Zipperer, Carlson, et al.) faces civil and criminal charges and has squandered over one million dollars without putting a dime into the building! What a mess. Folks: This could mark an exciting new chapter in the history of this magnificent movie palace. The not for profit groups that have tried to buy it have failed. Perhaps a new approach to operating a theatre this size is necessary. We believe that we have the answer. Call Paul with the Uptown Performance Centre, LLC at (773) 202-1010 for further information and for a unique investment opportunity.

scottg
scottg on October 19, 2003 at 4:53 am

I really hope that something is being done to save this place, it could be a true Gem, a great theater of the Nation.

BrendanMcKenna
BrendanMcKenna on April 9, 2003 at 4:37 pm

Here is the original column that provides the background to my post on April 4, 2003, from David Roeder, columnist for the Chicago Sun Times:

“UPTOWN CALAMITY: The nonprofit Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts is making progress toward its goal of raising $5 million to buy and refurbish the glorious Uptown Theatre, 4816 N. Broadway. So said Carol Jean Carlson, the group’s chief executive. The group has said that for two years now, even as it has burned through almost $1 million of benefactor Albert Goodman’s money, while the 4,381-seat theater remains vacant. Carlson said up to $100,000 was squandered by a former chief executive now on the lam.

Then there was the former chief executive’s replacement, who quit and claimed the group owed him $10,000. And now there’s a dispute with a former chairman of the organization, developer Paul Warshauer, who was dumped from the board. Carlson said a lawsuit will be filed against Warshauer for misdeeds she wouldn’t specify. “He was removed for cause,‘’ was all she would say.

Warshauer could not be reached. Carlson said the group has spent $250,000 as a down payment for the theater and $400,000 on consultants for architectural and environmental studies. She cites that as progress. But with the group showing scant ability to acquire and manage the property, it sounds more like the Uptown Theatre has become a cash cow for insiders. “Money before performance” seems to be the motto. The city has acted aggressively to force sales of blighted property. It’s time it saves the Uptown."

BrendanMcKenna
BrendanMcKenna on April 9, 2003 at 4:34 pm

From the April 9, 2003 column of David Roeder in the Chicago Sun Times:

“Also, developer Paul Warshauer, past chairman of the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, said he forced the group to oust him because of his complaints over its practices. The nonprofit organization wants to buy and renovate the Uptown Theatre at 4816 N. Broadway. It has burned through nearly $1 million with little to show for it.

Warshauer said that despite what the group’s leader said in this space last week, it has squandered $250,000 by not closing a contract to purchase the theater. There also are questions about $30,000 the group collected when it raffled a Jaguar, a prize it does not own and has yet to bestow."

BrendanMcKenna
BrendanMcKenna on April 4, 2003 at 6:29 pm

There was a recent article that summarized the financial mismanagement at the organization set up to renovate the Uptown. This includes a director running off after charging up a storm using organization credit cards; the resignation of the next director after only 6 months (Zipperer); a top heavy staff of 8 (what do they do all day); the excessive use of a $1 million donation; the failure of one after the other of fundraisers (including to auction off a used Jaguar that was the “property” of the missing director)-bottom line, it seems like if the Uptown is to be saved, it needs a radically new direction. The latest plan seems slightly off (to purchase rental properties adjacent to the theatre to gain the rental income). Uptown is still a slightly seedy neighborhood, so I am not sure how much income will come from renting (currently, it appears the spaces are empty to begin with). At this point, I don’t see how progress can be made to save the theatre. Shame!

JamesAPierce
JamesAPierce on March 19, 2003 at 1:59 am

A response to: jezmundv

True, the building has been closed since 1981 and is in need of renovation. But what, if I may inquire with all due respect, do you know of its engineering? It is engineered for all time and maintenance continues …

To my knowledge the building is kept secure and viable by its present private owners. Heat is provided on winter’s coldest days when needed. All is not lost!

It remains protected by local and national landmark laws. It has a large constituency on many levels. True, no recent prospect has consummated a purchase or renovation. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen or that prospective investors are not interested and working. State and local leaders have expressed interest and support again and again.

I believe it will be renovated to serve the public through entertainment of some kind. Stay tuned.

Please view uptowntheatre.com and subscribe to Uptown Adviser via http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uptownadviser/ for up to date info.

jezmundv
jezmundv on March 12, 2003 at 2:14 am

The building is unfortunately a mess. Water damage and building engineering problems have caused a steady deterioration of the property in a neighborhood that is steadily starting to come around. The City of Chicago has it’s sites set on the Rivera theater across the street to spend it’s money on to renovate. None of the groups that have made attempts to buy the theater have gotten their act together.

There is a scaffold around the theater now. Before long you will see and Omega or National Wrecking sign on it and they will quickly finish the job that was started when the building was first abandoned without heat.

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on February 19, 2003 at 10:05 pm

NOSTALGIC GALA TO BENEFIT UPTOWN THEATRE GROUP

CHICAGO (February 19, 2003)

The not-for-profit Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts (UTCA) announces ‘Bring Back the Brilliance,’ a gala benefit, Friday, March 21, at 7 pm at Northwestern School of Law, Thorne Auditorium, located at 375 E. Chicago Avenue. Tickets for the evening are $75 per person or $125 per couple. For reservations call 773-561-5700. Proceeds from the event, which will include a vintage fashion show, live swing music, light fare and cash bar, will support programming and operational expenses for the UTCA during the year.

The evening will commence with a reception in the lobby with hors d'oeuvres and live swing music provided by Speakeasy Entertainment. The main attraction will be an elaborately staged vintage fashion show assembled by producer, director, and award-winning designer William T. Buster. Showcasing spectacular American fashions from 1925 to 1963, the garments recall the glamorous styles of Hollywood’s Golden Age, paying tribute to the great history of the legendary Uptown Theatre. The collection consists of evening wear, daywear, outerwear, hats, furs, jewelry, lingerie, and bridal fashions. Following the fashion show there will be dancing in the lobby, with Speakeasy Entertainment playing a variety of classic big-band and disco favorites from the heyday of the Uptown Theatre.

Businesses or individuals that are interested in sponsorship opportunities for this high-visibility gala event should contact the UTCA at (773) 561-5700.

Often cited as a pivotal piece in the redevelopment of the Uptown neighborhood, the Uptown Theatre is the country’s largest freestanding theatre building in terms of square footage. Built in 1925 and designed by famed Chicago architects Rapp & Rapp, the Uptown Theatre was the crown jewels of the national Balaban & Katz movie palace empire. Shuttered since 1981, the Uptown has been listed as one of ‘America’s Most Endangered Historic Places’ by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places, the Illinois Historic Structures Survey, and is protected as a Chicago Landmark.

The Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts is a 501©(3) not-for-profit corporation created in March 2001 to purchase and restore the Uptown Theatre to its former prominence. Comprised of professionals with backgrounds in business administration, finance, theatre, and community development, the group’s efforts have given life to the most credible effort yet to save the neglected theatre. Upon restoration, the theatre’s physical space will be used to present a broad spectrum of programming designed to entertain and educate the diverse people who live in the Uptown neighborhood and the surrounding region, and will become a world-class center for the arts.

For more information on the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, visit www.uptowntheatrechicago.org.

-30-

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on December 3, 2002 at 4:42 pm

NAME-A-SEAT in the Uptown Theatre!

For the person who has everything, here’s a unique holiday gift idea! Help celebrate the diversity and vitality of the arts by endowing a seat in the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts.

For as little as $500, you can dedicate a new seat in the renovated theatre to yourself, a loved one, favorite artist, or arts champion. Seat endowments are available in all theatre sections:

Orchestra: $2,500
Mezzanine: $500

With your tax-deductible donation, a plaque measuring 2.5" high by 4.5" wide, with a two-line 48-character dedication, will be affixed to the arm of the seat. Additional space for a 25-character line acknowledging your donation will also be included on the plaque.

To reserve your seat now, click here: View link
Or, call 773-561-5700.

JamesAPierce
JamesAPierce on November 10, 2002 at 11:53 pm

A reply to: graememcbain

Thank you for wishing the Uptown well. Luckily it has both city landmark and national register protections … and its owners, staff and volunteers keep additional damage to a minimum. Its future remains uncertain but not imminently threatened by anything different than it has endured since closing in 1981.

To stay in touch, please subscribe to Uptown Adviser via the web site http://www.uptowntheatre.com

graememcbain
graememcbain on November 6, 2002 at 1:59 pm

I live in Melbourne,Australia and I sincerely hope the Uptown Theatre can be saved.I have not yet visited Chicago,the closest being New York in 1999.It is important for future generations to be able to see these great theatres.Not one of today’s modern complexes comes any where near the beauty of the great picture palaces and all efforts to save as many as possible should be eagerly pursued at all costs.

I was very disappointed to see one such theatre,the Ambassador in St.Louis disappear five years ago.

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on October 3, 2002 at 10:42 pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (part two)

(Continued)
Often cited as a pivotal piece in the redevelopment of the Uptown neighborhood, the Uptown Theatre is the country’s largest freestanding theatre building in terms of square footage. Built in 1925 and designed by famed Chicago architects Rapp & Rapp, the Uptown Theatre was one of the crown jewels of the national Balaban & Katz movie palace empire. Shuttered since 1981, the Uptown has been listed as one of “America’s Most Endangered Historic Places” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places and the Illinois Historic Structures Survey and is protected as a Chicago Landmark.

The Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts is a 501©(3) not-for-profit corporation created in March 2001 to purchase and restore the Uptown Theatre to its former prominence. Comprised of professionals with backgrounds in business administration, finance, theatre, and community development, the group’s efforts have given life to the most credible effort yet to save the shuttered theatre. On July 27, 2001, Albert I. Goodman, on behalf of the Edith-Marie Appleton Foundation, kicked off the drive to renovate the historic Uptown Theatre with a generous gift of $1 million and a pledge of continuing support.

For more information on the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts or to make a donation, call (773) 561-5700 or visit www.uptowntheatrechicago.com.

-30- *******

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on October 3, 2002 at 10:40 pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (part one)

Group refuses to take final bow on Uptown Theatre Restoration

CHICAGO (October 3, 2002) – An agreement signed Tuesday between the not-for-profit Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts and Cercore Properties Corp. extends through October 21 the contract allowing the group to purchase and restore the historic Uptown Theatre. The purchase option was to have expired tomorrow.

“We still believe that we’ll be able to save this magnificent gem,” said Mark Zipperer, chief executive officer of the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, noting that although the group remains $1.5 million short of the total funds needed to purchase and winterize the landmark theatre, support for the campaign is escalating. “The same economic conditions that have created a tough fundraising environment make restoration of the Uptown a fiscally sound project, given the immediate jobs the project would create and its long-term economic impact on the blighted Uptown neighborhood.”

Even within the last week, momentum towards the purchase continues to build as corporations and individual donors make monetary commitments on a daily basis. And high-profile supporters, including Chicago Alderperson Mary Ann Smith (48th Ward), Illinois Rep. Rod Blagojevich (5th District), and former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon have endorsed the organization’s plan for revitalizing the aging movie palace.

“If we’re going to fulfill our obligation of restoring this historic landmark for future generations to enjoy, there’s no better time than now,” said Zipperer, who, in a relatively unprecedented move, has guaranteed that all contributions will be held in a special, secured account and returned to donors in what he calls “the unlikely scenario” that the group’s bid to purchase the theatre fails.

“Restoration costs have doubled within the last 10 years, and experts have estimated that another five to seven years of neglect will render the Uptown Theatre irreparable,” Zipperer clarified. “After a recent incident when a chunk of falling plaster prompted a city building inspector to cancel all future fundraising tours of the theatre, I’m left wondering if we even have that long.”

“This really is the Theatre’s eleventh hour, and I’d like to make one final plea to everyone, whether you’re the administrator of a major philanthropic trust, a corporate leader or a neighborhood resident with fond memories of Saturday afternoons spent watching quarter movies at the Uptown, to do what you can,” Zipperer said. “If 150,000 Chicagoans each donated $10, we could close on the building tomorrow.”

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on October 3, 2002 at 10:34 pm

A letter from Mark Zipperer, CEO of the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts:

******* Dear Uptown Theatre Supporters and Friends:

As you are likely aware, today marks the expiration of the agreement we entered into for the, to purchase of the historic Uptown Theatre. In the purchase agreement, our not-for-profit organization, the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts (UTCA), agreed to pay the current owner of the Theatre $2.5 million dollars. We made a down payment of $250K and agreed to purchase the property in 120 days. Yesterday, on behalf of the UTCA, I signed an agreement with the owner of the theatre to extend our deadline to October 21. As the attached press release indicates, we still do not have the funds to complete the purchase. Our staff, board, volunteers, supporters, and community leaders remain hopeful that we can make this happen in the not-to distant future.

I ask you not to lose faith in our endeavor. We’ve accomplished much in a short period of time. 48th Ward Alderman Mary Ann Smith has endorsed our project. We have received tremendous media attention including in-depth coverage from CNN. Theatre experts, political officials, and business advisors alike have reviewed our business plan. We’ve received high praise for our vision and sound financial forecasting. Thus, the foundation for a successful future has been built.

We are committed to this cause and will continue on. In order to move forward, we need the financial support of individuals, corporations and others to complete the purchase. Our plans to secure funding for the restoration include special benefit concerts, our “name-a-seat” campaign, as well as benefiting from area tax financing as well as historic tax credits. Once we conclude the purchase of the Theatre, we will move forward with the restoration planning phase. We plan to kick-off the restoration in early 2003, which will result in more than 100 jobs for the restoration team, our operational staff, and surrounding supporting businesses.

If you can contribute monetarily, the time is NOW. If you work at a company in which you have the ability to influence your company leaders to make a donation or loan to us, please have those conversations NOW. If you know someone who has the financial ability to help us complete this purchase, please call on that person NOW. With your help, we can make this purchase a reality. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

Best Regards,

Mark M. Zipperer Chief Executive Officer

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on September 25, 2002 at 10:42 pm

RADIO CIRCUIT

Listen to the talk of the town on the radio circuit —– the Uptown Theatre purchase campaign. We are in an eleventh-hour “race against the clock” to take ownership of the theatre by October 4, and begin restoration of this historic jewel before it is too late to save.

WGN-AM 720 “The Spike O'Dell Show.” TOMORROW, Thursday, 9-26-02 at 6:50 am. Spike will interview Mark Zipperer, CEO of the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts.

WUSN-FM 99.5, “Chicago Up Close” with LeeAnn Trotter. Sunday, 9-29-02 between 6-7 am. The show’s topic is the impact of theatre restorations. Guests include Mark Zipperer, and our architectural partners: Jeff Havel from d'Escoto, Inc., and Bill Latoza from Bauer Latoza Studio Ltd.

WNND-FM 100.3 FM, “Windy City Weekly” with Susan Wiencek. Sunday, 9-29-02 from 7:30 am – 8:00 am. Mark Zipperer, CEO, and Michael Beyer, Director of Marketing, will be interviewed.

WLUW-FM 88.7 Loyola University. Nick Tristano will interview Mark Zipperer on the all-new “The Full on Friday Show” on October 4 at 2:30 pm.

WBEZ-FM 91.5, Investigative report on the Uptown Theatre by Tony Sarabia to air on or about October 4. Get the FULL scoop from the Uptown perspective as Tony interviews the movers and shakers in the political and preservation scene pertinent to the Uptown Theatre restoration. ******

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on September 12, 2002 at 11:03 pm

2003 UPTOWN THEATRE CALENDARS – ADVANCE SALES

The Uptown Theatre 2003 calendar, IN COLOR, will be unveiled in mid-October. You marveled at, even framed, the beautiful B&W photos from the 2002 Uptown Theatre calendar. Our newest gem features 12 new equally beautiful photographs by Chicago photographer Loren Robare. It is our second and final calendar to showcase photos of the theatre in its current deteriorated state, and is sure to become a collector’s item. The 2004 calendar will proudly feature photos of the restoration of the Uptown Theatre.

Help to Bring Back the Brilliance, by purchasing your calendar(s) TODAY!

Log on to the gift shop on our web site www.uptowntheatrechicago.org and place your advance order. *******

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on September 12, 2002 at 11:01 pm

UR Chicago article (part two)

This is one landmark the city can’t afford to lose. Located in the most diverse neighborhood in the city — both economically, racially and ethnically — such an open, community-driven center would be an incredible asset. While renovating the space, a job training program will be used to help the unemployed shadow the skilled manual laborers, thereby allowing people with little or no income to earn both a paycheck and a skill. The rapidly growing Uptown community will have a vibrant entertainment district with the Aragon, the Riviera, the Green Mill, and the newly reopened Uptown Theatre in walking distance from each other. The old Goldblatt’s space is also being reworked to house a Border’s. “People have been trying to use this space for a while now, but I don’t think we were ever ready for it,” says Zipperer. “I think we’re ready for it now … in five years, I can see people having friends from out of town and bringing them to the Uptown as one of their top priorities.”

For more information or to volunteer, call Michael Morehead, the Director of Volunteer and Educational Programs at 773/561-5700, or see www.uptowntheatrechicago.com.

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on September 12, 2002 at 11:00 pm

UR CHICAGO ARTICLE (part 1 of 2)

UR Chicago ran the following article on page 9 of the DISTORTION section under the Flavor of the Month column. Link to article: View link

Saving History: Chicago’s only $2.5 million away from restoring the Uptown Theatre

By Terry Selucky

Back in the day, movie theatres were referred to as “palaces” and people came in droves to catch the latest motion picture. Moviegoing was widely considered immoral, so people sought to change that perception by dressing their best and frequenting theatres as grandiose as they were functional.

You might stumble across a skeleton of a palace like this around Chicago (the Oriental Theatre, the Chicago Theatre, the Aragon), but the most impressive of all these, the Uptown, is also the most rundown.

Located on Broadway just north of Lawrence Avenue, the Uptown Theatre is bigger in area than Radio City Music Hall, has more seats than any live indoor venue in Chicago, and is older than the “El.” Built in 1925 on the former beer garden of the Green Mill, the Uptown Theatre compared itself to “a castle in Old Spain upon which countless artists and sculptors have lavished their talents.” But after many starts and stops, the Uptown closed down in 1981 due to a lack of interest and money, and neglect has rendered the building unfit for use without renovations.

Enter the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, a not-for-profit corporation toiling since March 2001 to buy the theatre. If they raise $2.5 million dollars by October 4, they’ll have enough money to purchase the building and begin the process of restoring it. Renovations include a completely new electrical system, updated plumbing, heating and cooling systems and asbestos removal. A mainstage theatre with more than 4,000 seats, three smaller heatres, an art gallery, a museum, a radio station, gift shop and an arts education program for kids will be initiated within the space.

“With the economy in the current shape it’s in,” says Mark Zipperer, CEO of the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, “it’s a challenge to raise money to help fund the purchase.”

Building anything like the Uptown today would cost around $110 million, making the $2.5 million needed to buy it a bargain. And Zipperer ensures a money-back guarantee for the contributors. “If we don’t raise enough money by October 4, we give everyone their money back, whether it’s five dollars or five thousand.”

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on September 12, 2002 at 10:53 pm

POLITICAL ENDORSEMENT

Excerpts From Alderman (48th Ward) Mary Ann Smith’s Letter of Endorsement
dated September 5, 2002

“I am delighted to offer my full support for the plans currently being proposed for the Uptown Theatre with the development team you are putting in place. This building is a treasure which I, along with dozens of other neighborhood people and preservationists nationwide have fought for decades to protect. It is imperative that this first best chance to restore the Theatre to an active and vibrant life be the best it can possibly be … My support for the plan is based on the caliber of the firms and individuals you have brought on board, whose knowledge and experience will maximize the prospects for the success of this huge undertaking … I, along with the rest of the 48th Ward community, look forward to working with you hand in hand to bring back the brilliance of the Uptown Theatre.”

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on September 12, 2002 at 10:49 pm

The following article appeared in the Chicago Tribune Metro section on 9-6-02 by Arts Entertainment reporter Chris Jones.

Time is running out for Uptown Theatre Chris Jones

September 6, 2002

With plaster peeling from its walls and rainwater pooling on its historic floors, Chicago’s Uptown Theatre remains unrestored and in deteriorating condition.

The Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, a non-profit group founded to restore and operate the building at 4816 N. Broadway, has an option to buy the building that expires Oct. 4. And the group still is more than $1 million short of the $2.5 million purchase price set by the building owner, Cercore Properties.

According to executive director Mark Zipperer, the group thus far has raised about $1.3 million, in addition to the original $1 million pledged to the cause by Albert I. Goodman. Most of Goodman’s initial donation has been used to pay staffers and fundraising expenses. However, an additional anonymous donor has contributed $1 million, which forms the bulk of the new funding.

Still, that leaves a big hole. And if the additional money is not raised within the next 30 days, Zipperer says he doubts the theater ever will be saved.

“We’re in the eleventh hour,” Zipperer said. “The building is deteriorating so fast.”

Up until this week, Ald. Mary Ann Smith (48th) had withheld her support from the Uptown Center for the Arts, which was mired in scandal when its former executive director, Michael Morrison, was charged in a civil suit with using some of Goodman’s donation for personal expenses.

Indeed, the luxury car currently being raffled by the theater formerly was leased by Morrison for his own use. But on Thursday, Smith said she now had changed her mind and decided to publicly support the group.

“A lot of people with substantial backgrounds in entertainment, development and law finally are coming on board,” Smith said. “I think people will pull the trigger on the money now that they know that the right plan is in place. I’m confident that the deadline will be met.”

Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on August 8, 2002 at 11:09 pm

Chicago Free Press article (continued —part two)

Eight stories high, architects C.W. Rapp and George L. Rapp created what is still the largest free-standing theater in the United States, bigger than New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Balaban and Katz’s flagship Chicago Theatre and Chicago’s famed Auditorium Theatre.

The crowd of 12,000 that came to the first shows that day entered a cavernous grand lobby that later hosted early Hearts Foundation parties before the building was closed. From its marble baseboards and stained glass windows to its bronze railings and gold-leaf trim, the theater glistened with opulence.

And the opulence went well beyond the visual. Eight lobbies were built so the huge crowds could be managed between shows, and the theater featured a state-of-the-art air conditioning system that could not only completely exchange the air every two minutes, but could also dehumidify it, purify it, ozonize it and perfume it.

Its stage lighting system was the most sophisticated in the world, using 10,000 bulbs and capable of making 10 complete light changes in 14 seconds. The roof sign, with 12-foot-high lighted letters, could be seen from the Loop. In a final flourish, in 1928 Balaban and Katz installed a Wurlitzer Grande pipe organ that was the most expensive ever built.

People and Hollywood stars flocked to the palace through the 1930s. But when movie attendance trailed off in the 1940s, Balaban and Katz tried other ways to turn a profit at the Uptown, even hosting the 1950s TV game show, “Queen for a Day,” at times. By the 1970s, entrepreneur Rene Rabiela featured Spanish-language movies and hosted rock concerts featuring such performers as Bob Marley, the Grateful Dead, Peter Gabriel, Santana and others.

But, unable to make a consistent profit, the Uptown closed its doors for the last time in 1981 and ownership reverted to the Plitt movie chain. Plitt never reopened the Uptown and disaster struck in the 1983-1984 winter when, with the heat shut off, water pipes burst, flooding the basement, ruining much of the plaster walls and making restoration inevitable if the grand palace was ever to be opened again.

Zipperer says architects and preservationists estimate the building can be fully restored for $22-$28 million, still a bargain considering what it would cost to duplicate. And a restored Uptown Theatre, Zipperer says, would once again be the crown jewel of a vibrant cultural scene and nightlife in Uptown.

“It’s a key piece of property in Uptown,” says Zipperer, also president of the Buena Park Neighborhood Association just south of Uptown. “The community here is our best advocate. People are passionate about this building.”

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on August 8, 2002 at 11:04 pm

(Part one)

The buzz continues! Chicago Free Press ran a front page article on the Uptown Theatre in the August 7 issue. Pick up a copy off the newstand and check out the amazing shots of the interior taken by photographer Jason Smith. Link to article: View link

******* THIS OLD THEATER NON-PROFIT POLISHING TARNISHED UPTOWN JEWEL

By Gary Barlow Staff writer

Even with the dust, the crumbling patches of plaster and the tarnished wood and metal flourishes, the interior of the Uptown Theatre evokes looks of awe.

For starters, it is huge, from the grand lobby on Broadway to the tiered 4,400-seat theater. Built as the crown jewel of one of America’s premier theater chains as the golden age of film dawned in 1925, it’s been shuttered for two decades.

That could change, if an Uptown group racing against time to save and restore it succeeds in getting the community support it needs.

“Every day that passes by is lost,” says Mark Zipperer, CEO of the non-profit Uptown Theatre and Center for the Performing Arts. “We may not be able to restore the building in five years.”

Now, Zipperer says, the time and circumstances are right for refurbishing the Uptown.

“Ten years ago, the neighborhood wasn’t ready for it,” he says. But in the past decade, the neighborhood has changed; gay and lesbian Chicagoans in particular have moved to Uptown in large numbers. The organization Zipperer leads in the effort to save the Uptown reflects the area’s changing demographics.

“There’s an equation about neighborhoods evolving,” Zipperer says. “There now needs to be community areas to support that.”

The group has an agreement with the property’s owners to buy the theater for about $2.5 million if it can raise the money by Oct. 20. Walking through the musty but still ornate lobby, Zipperer makes it clear that he thinks closing the deal is both a community imperative and an incredible bargain.

“In today’s dollars, it would cost about $110 million to duplicate this building,” he says, walking up one of the grand circular staircases rising from the lobby to the balcony level of the theater.

“All this stuff can be saved,” Zipperer says. “It might look bad in spots, but structurally it was built to withstand anything.”

That was the boast when the Uptown, just north of Lawrence on Broadway, opened Aug. 18, 1925. “Built for all time,” its owners, Barney Balaban and Sam Katz, declared. It was and is an imposing Spanish baroque movie palace. (cont.)

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on August 1, 2002 at 12:03 am

TOURS OFFER FIRST PUBLIC GLIMPSE INSIDE HISTORIC UPTOWN THEATRE IN TWO DECADES

CHICAGO (July 31, 2002)

For the first time in more than two decades, Chicago’s historic Uptown Theatre will open its doors to a limited number of the general public interested in glimpsing the grandeur of what was once one of the most famous movie palaces in the country, and learning more about current efforts to restore the landmark theatre. David Bahlman, President of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, and Mark Zipperer, Chief Executive Officer of the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, a not-for-profit group dedicated to purchasing and restoring the Uptown to its former artistic, architectural and cultural prominence, will host public tours of the theatre at noon, Tuesday, August 13, and 6 p.m., Wednesday, August 14.

Each tour will be limited to a maximum of 30 people and reservations are being accepted by phone only, on a first-come, first-served basis, at (773) 381-6312. Cost is a tax-deductible donation of $15 per person to the Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts. The Uptown Theatre is located at 4814-4816 N. Broadway, near the corner of Broadway and Lawrence Avenues, in the center of Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.

Built in 1925 by the Chicago-based Balaban & Katz movie palace empire and designed by world-renowned Chicago architects Rapp & Rapp, the 4,381-seat Uptown was touted at its opening as ‘an acre of seats in a magic city.’ It remains the country’s largest freestanding theatre building in terms of square footage and one of the top five in seating capacity. “”

MichaelBeyer
MichaelBeyer on July 8, 2002 at 6:19 pm

Crain’s Chicago Business ran the following article in the July 8 issue. Link to article:
View link


July 06, 2002

Uptown Theatre Seeks Funds

A group dedicated to restoring Chicago’s Uptown Theatre is kicking off a series of eight fund-raising events this week as part of an effort to raise $4 million to purchase the building before an Oct. 5 deadline.

The non-profit Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts, which last month signed a 120-day letter of intent to buy the dilapidated theater from Cercore Properties Corp., is targeting local business leaders, preservation groups and the philanthropic community in its campaign.

The group will also host the first public tours of the structure in more than two decades later this summer as part of the fund-raising drive.

In addition to the purchase price, estimates of the restoration costs for the theater range from $18 million to $30 million.


To make a donation to the Uptown Theatre restoration project,

Mail to:
Uptown Theatre and Center for the Arts
4707 N. Broadway, Suite 315
Chicago, IL 60640

Visit us on the web at: www.uptowntheatrechicago.com
Or, call us: 773-561-5700