Uptown Theatre

4816 N. Broadway,
Chicago, IL 60640

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DavidZornig on March 28, 2010 at 8:52 pm

I stand corrected, and I signed the petition. Thanks for setting me straight.
Ironically I have always been an advocate for preservation and restoration of the Uptown. As evidenced in all of my previous posts to Cinema Treasures.
I also did freelance work for the city for 10 years. So I’ve experienced a bit of bureaucracy first hand.

Some may also want to search a Tribune series from a few years back. About the city and the preservation of various buildings within Chicago. At the time, all of the ones that had been lost needlessly were listed by address. My previous point was made with that particular series in mind.

I guess I was concerned that any project requiring the city’s help for preservation, would likely receive low priority if any, given current economic conditions and the city’s budget woes.

I believe in JAM, and that they will step up to the plate as things evolve. I believe I read that they were the only buyer to show up at the sale.

uptownadviser on March 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm

To correct David Zornig’s comment above, the City has invested heavily in the stabilization of the Uptown. All of the major work that you can see from the street in the past five years has been done on the City’s dime under the direction of a court-appointed receiver and a licensed structural engineer. Each related City department and official has been incredibly supportive over the years.

Please recall that the building remains privately owned. The impetus to renovate and reuse the Uptown must come from the private owner and what he or she sees the Uptown’s role being in the entertainment market. It will not be saved simply by the city, state or federal government throwing money at it. The Uptown will only come back with a sensible renovation and reuse plan that is funded largely by private enterprise. There will be civic backed support and incentives, no doubt. But the solution will have to come from within.

More recent stabilization and monitoring work continues under the direction of U.T.A. II, LLC, which is related to Jam Productions. They are the most interested owners in some time. They are both responsive and supportive and have retained an architect to investigate options and directions.

To support our efforts and to stay in touch about the Uptown Theatre, Chicago, please go to the Friends of the Uptown web site, www.uptowntheatre.com and do three simple things:

  1. Sign the online petition.
  2. Sign up for our email newsletter on Yahoo Groups, Uptown Adviser.
  3. Friend us on Facebook.

Links for all three things are on our homepage. Thanks for your continuing interest, support and detailed observation.

DavidZornig on March 11, 2010 at 8:13 am

I am quite certain that JAM’s intentions for the Uptown are and always have been all good. What “evidence suggests otherwise”?

Who in their right mind would spend 3 million or whatever it was, just to prevent competition from spending another 30-40 million, renovating a building with such huge problems that’s been empty for 30 years?
JAM could have NOT bought it and still gotten that result.

My understanding is that JAM owns the Riviera, and only manages the Aragon.
And the simple competition in the music biz, is to book who is most popular for the least amount of money, in the biggest place you have available.
And yes, that would be the Uptown. But there are so many insanely expensive variables to undertake before that could even remotely have been a threat.

Hypothetically, if the Uptown WAS bought and fully renovated/opened by JAM’s competition, it would still come down to who could book the bigger name acts consistently. 3-40 million is a pretty big gamble upfront to prevent competition.

JAM openly claimed it had wanted to buy and renovate the Uptown for years. But the roadblocks and various players invloved were always insurmountable. (Some of which is stated in links in posts above, from around the time they finally purchased it.)

I agree the City of Chicago seems shamefully indifferent to what happens to the Uptown. Or most landmark worthy buildings for that matter. Unless they can get their piece of the action. The City is claiming it’s treading water itself. So incentives are going to be flying out of City Hall any time soon.

paulsp on March 10, 2010 at 9:45 am

It’s a scandal to say the least that the restoration of the Uptown seems always to be in doubt. As good as Loew’s Kings might be (and it’s great that it looks like being restored) it is not in my opinion in quite the same league as the Uptown, one of the top 4 or 5 movie palaces ever built!! The City of Chicago does not seem to understand what a special place this is.

LuisV on March 10, 2010 at 6:32 am

I have much more faith in NY City’s government than Chicago’s. The city has been working for years to find the right buyer and has backed it with lots of tax breaks and grants, I don’t think that Chicago has done the same, so I am very confident that the Kings will come to fruition.

LuisV on February 15, 2010 at 6:44 am

The Loew’s Kings Theatre in Brooklyn has finally been saved! This 3,000+ seat palace has been sitting abandoned for over 30 years, just like the Uptown. It is one of the country’s most ornate, but unrenovated theaters, just like the Uptown, and it is located in a non central city location, again like the Uptown. The renovation will cost about $70MM largely paid for with with city grants and tax breaks. The project will take four years, employ 500 people during restoration and 50 permanent after opening. It is expected to host over 200 events a year, though it is not clear movies will be among them. A new marquee (styled after the original) will be installed in addition to a brand new blade, as it originally had! This is incredible news for all theater lovers across the country and hopeful news for fans of The Uptown. IT CAN BE DONE!

123james on October 29, 2009 at 6:54 pm

thanks for posting the pictures—-to me it still looks great——even after all the neglict and abuse——thru the years

chspringer on October 29, 2009 at 6:41 pm

I’d love to see more interior shots in color. Most I’ve found are B&W. The one above is nice.

tarantex on October 29, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Those Pictures Panzer65 are so nice thankx for posting them!!

Panzer65 on October 12, 2009 at 5:06 pm

I have an interior photo of the Uptown, viewing the ornate architecture it is some what peculiar to movie palaces in America. The photographer is standing in the mezzanine, an Italian term that loosely translates into mid way or middle. This section is sandwiched in between the balcony and the orchestra level. Another peculiar design element is that the seats along the side , which are known as Opera Boxes , or Box Seats, usually are independent of the other seats. This design gracefully sweeps into the side walls of the theater.
View link
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Panzer65 on October 12, 2009 at 4:53 pm

I’m from New York City and we are facing the same predicament as you are, we are trying to save a 1916 Thomas Lamb designed theater building named Ridgewood. Although this theater is name an ornate palace like your Uptown, we share the same love for the memories and historic value that these buildings hold. I signed the petition without hesitation and wish you the best of luck saving the Uptown. Please do visit us in New York City, and check out the CT Ridgewood page.

uptownjen on August 13, 2009 at 8:58 pm

I hope it’s not simply to eliminate possible competition, should Live Nation or someone else get a hold on it. I’ve heard that the hold-up is that some people want the seats to be ripped out on the floor and others want it completely restored.

This recent article doesn’t make the whole thing sound very positive.

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Jean on July 20, 2009 at 3:53 am

My late mother used to go there as a kid with her cousin and to ALL the B&K theatres for FREE. I am thus related to the KATZ side of B&K. I wish I could one day see the inside. I have been offered but since mom passed away last year, I don’t have much desire to go back to Chicago. :(

123james on July 16, 2009 at 1:57 pm

i keep checking for news of the uptown’s rescue everyday——when will the compass rose website be updated with if anything is happening———is it possible that the city or state could get stimulas fund’s for a restoration project—-this could create some jobs——what about using it for a olympic games in 2016 if chicago is selected as host city——it might be a cool and comfotable place to watch various events if you can’t get a ticket(s)?

wurl240 on July 16, 2009 at 10:36 am

Does the Uptown have a concrete roof? I would guess it would. Seems to be those wood and tar paper theatre roofs that allow water in to destroy interiors. I would hope Uptown would be “land-banked”. Keep a
roof on it with adequate down spouts and try to heat in the winter.
I greatly admire those who are/have been working to keep this outstanding B&K house from total destruction.

paullewis on April 11, 2009 at 2:31 pm

I find it very distressing that the future of the Uptown still remains in doubt despite the wonderful efforts of the “friends” to keep it in the public eye.
Having looked extensively in many publications relating to the great movie palaces of the past (I have a first edition of “Best Remaining Seats” plus many other later books) I have concluded that not only is the Uptown the finest survivor in the world of this genre but was without doubt one of the top 3 or 4 movie palaces ever built. To my mind only the New York Roxy and Capitol were better and some would argue the Fox San Francisco, although for me it was a bit too over the top.
Because of its unique status today its demise would rank with the demolition of Penn Station New York in 1963 as one of the greatest acts of public vandalism in American history.

DavidZornig on April 2, 2009 at 8:03 am

Renew notification test.

DavidZornig on March 13, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I guess the link no longer works.
The Sun-Times article was basically about Ald. Smith trying to get/force? JAM to partner with Live Nation on a future for the Uptown Theatre.
Even though there were possible conflicts of interest on Live Nation’s part since they already supposedly have contracts with the city either at Northerly Island (Miegs Field), or elsewhere for Summer festivals.
Also JAM apparently has issues with Live Nation a competitor, apparently previously trying to cause JAM headaches.

I just read on CT’s Capitol Music Hall(Wheeling, WV) page, that Live Nation sold that venue for $615,000 after supposedly seeking $800,000 in 2007.
A building that also housed recording studios, offices etc. A promoters dream space I would think. Besides, don’t they already own House Of Blues?

So maybe it best that Live Nation never get their hands in or on the Uptown.
The Uptown is likely out of their league.
The Capitol Music Hall only needed $2-8 million+ worth of work.

As far as Ald. Smith pushing for a JAM/Live Nation partnership, she should probably do more homework on Live Nation. Hometown JAM is a better fit for the Uptown on their own. Especially since they made the effort to buy it on their own. After no one else would.
Again, Who is Ald. Smith to tell JAM who to work with on their property? And again, if she wanted Live Nation’s involvement because of their past city ties, why didn’t she get them to buy it in the first place.
In retrospect, it sounds like she wanted someone else to pay for the place and it’s problems, then sweep in Live Nation and their money to “help” get it up and running.
If Live Nation didn’t want to spend $2 million to fix up an already operational music venue, what’s going to be their part in a $30 million dollar renovation? Their expertise?

Bing00 on March 8, 2009 at 9:08 pm

What was that Sun Times article?

DavidZornig on January 10, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Geez. Why didn’t Ald. Smith just have Live Nation show up and buy it at the auction? I read where even JAM was surprised that they themselves were the only bidders.
Why wait til JAM lays out the front money, and then attempt to dictate what they do with THEIR property?
Only in Chicago.

uptownjen on January 10, 2009 at 6:41 pm

Sadly, the problems with Uptown owners continue…I couldn’t be more disappointed.

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spectrum on November 12, 2008 at 1:20 pm

Haven’t seen URL’s posted for these two great photo galleries on flickr:

The first has 51 photos posted in August 2007 and June 2008, about a third exterior, 2/3 interior shots.

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The second has six interior shots from 2007:

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Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on November 7, 2008 at 1:46 pm

One of the more interesting shots I have seen:

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