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A blown opportunity to spend several times as much for a few hundred more seats to fill, maybe (and remember, there are no seats in place). An opportunity to get foreclosed. Of course, is it even an opportunity if the owners of the Belpark had no interest in selling, and the operators of the Portage did not have funds to buy, but rent? Easy to play 20/20 hindsight, but I have actually been through the Belpark fairly recently. Don’t forget the Portage has Sears parking. It’s a good opportunity for the church, which should have better access to financing, and perhaps they’ll end up making the facility available for other events, assuming they’re able to make the deal happen.
If you are in the area, I encourage you to visit the Golden Tiara bingo hall. I think walking around inside will help you understand how it’s different from the Portage.
The fact that there are so many surface parking lots at Cicero should make it clear that it’s a less hot area. If there was much demand for land at Cicero & Belmont, the bank would likely sell much of its oversized parking lots for redevelopment. 6 corners has Sears & Jewel, Cicero has Walgreens. Milwaukee and Irving Park are much more heavily trafficked than that part of Cicero & Belmont. If empty lots are better than occupied businesses, explain the Music Box.
There are no seats at all at the Belpark. Capacity couldn’t be more than a few hundred, as bingo is conducted at widely-spaced card tables. It’s also not exclusively seniors. I think if you saw inside the Belpark you’d understand why both parties went after the Portage first.
A restaurant with a liquor license is a much different animal than a liquor store & flophouse.
At the Portage, the ownership could rent for a while instead of spending all the money purchasing a building AND renovating. The Portage is too big for many of the events at the Portage, much less the larger Belpark. The Belpark will take much more work to make beautiful again than the Portage did. It is heavily altered, though restorable. The Belpark wasn’t actually up for sale either. I think the car dealerships were still in business when the Portage reopened. The Belpark does not have the visibility, transit access, or a commercial district with potential as the Portage does. Just because there are empty lots nearby doesn’t mean parking will be available for free.
You get the impression that AMC approached it like an old car – just enough maintenance to keep it running until something serious breaks, running out the clock.
Norridge is so far different from what AMC’s direction is. I can’t see them investing in a non-stadium, irregular theater that requires 2 concession stands, 2 sets of bathrooms, has poor visibility, excessively large auditoriums, etc. Maybe a smaller operator will want to deal with it, but it would still need 10 digital projectors at a minimum and major renovations to bring audiences back. It would probably be more efficient to just build a new one, like AMC did at Randhurst.
Yeah, I should have rewritten that before I posted. Here:
The original twin theaters, which sat 1200 and 900 respectively, were ultimately subdivided into screens 5-10. I’m guessing at which screens were involved, but this sounds like the most likely series of expansions and splits to me. A third screen was added to the right side of the building (ultimately called Theater 1) and opened July 25, 1975. A fourth screen was opened June 10, 1977, which was probably the flat-roofed section to the far right of the building, now theater 2. A fifth screen was created by a split in 1983. Screens six and seven seem to have been additions to the rear of theaters 1 and 2. Three more screens were created by splits in 1988, opening on memorial day.
As for the closure, signs on the door of screens 5-10 explained that they were closed due to a water main break, which probably brought about the closure of the remaining screens. Otherwise it seems odd to close a theater a week before the opening of The Dark Knight Rises.
Norridge closing should be good for the Patio. Hope they can get the word out.
Here is an updated link to Box Office Magazine of November 2, 1970. I’m adding photos I took about 5 years ago and a couple from last night.
I took this photoset. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bwchicago/1508088844/
Here is a nice photo of the Calo as a bowling alley.
Added a photo of the detail in primer coat. The detail is much, much more legible now, but again it should be the correct colors. The primer coat illustrates well that this is meant to be a darker color, not white.
Primer coat after paint stripping/sanding
Notice the neon on PICKWICK is different, there are neon frames around the changeable letters which no longer exist, and there is concealed uplighting on the stars and faces which also no longer exists.
I uploaded a few early photographs. You can clearly see at least three shades of gray, and no white whatsoever (comparing to the white of the changeable letters.) So if there’s white, it can’t be the original scheme. It would have been simple to do some sampling and map the colors using these B&W photos, but that opportunity is now gone.
On the exterior, Iannelli did the marquee (just look at the faces) and the art glass window, and likely worked closely with Zook & McCaughey throughout the process. Not sure if he did the starburst fan additions to the marquee.
The NR doesn’t restrict anything. Only if it was a tax credit funded rehabilitation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RnlSnXqkFc Here’s that video. I don’t see too much water damage really. It would take some money to reopen but it could be much worse.
Cinema Treasures policy is to list it under the current name if it’s open.
nope. closest is the patio.
I think the terra cotta was removed in the 50s or 60s, maybe when the marquee and doors were replaced by those from the Tivoli, because it’s not in a photo from the 70s
mike, I have many of the opening ads for Chicago theatres saved on my hard drive, if you don’t already have them filed I could send them to you and save some duplication of effort.
They’re trying to reopen, so I wouldn’t hold your breath
They’re right next to each other. I would guess the cinemas were in the gym, looks about right for a six-plex, but they could have extended into the Sport space too.
Reopening June 8 as Studio Movie Grill