Portage Theatre

4050 N. Milwaukee Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60641

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Showing 151 - 175 of 204 comments

Broan on December 17, 2005 at 8:05 pm

The only thing that article is good for is the pictures.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on December 17, 2005 at 6:29 pm

Here is a great link to an article about the pitfalls of theatre restoration. It is from CRAINS CHICAGO BUSINESS.

View link

rroberts on December 1, 2005 at 1:23 pm

FYI: Dennis W. was the wonderful manager at the Gateway Theatre.

Broan on November 30, 2005 at 6:30 am

Very intriguing news! Wolkowicz is the man behind Silent Film Chicago, and one of the best theater organists in the area, under a psuedonym. http://lakeclaremontpress.blogspot.com/ includes another blurb I just found on this project. I’m amazed this has kept so quiet! He must be planning to reinstall an organ, I wonder which? My bet would be on the Gateway or Patio, I suppose. I don’t know if he reads this page, but if he does, i’d certainly like to volunteer any help I can give. My contact information is in my profile.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on November 29, 2005 at 4:36 pm

From a friend who lives in Portage Park. Dennis worked at the Copernicus Gateway years ago. Don’t know what he’s up to now:

My neighborhood paper’s got a front-page article
>saying major renovation work is currently under way at
>the Portage Theater, and that they hope to be open by
>the end of the year or not long thereafter. The
>article includes a photo of the auditorium, but I
>can’t tell if it’s current or an old stock photo.
>The guy they mention as the manager is Dennis
>Wolkowicz. Know anything about him?

Elizabeth on November 28, 2005 at 3:50 am

Guess what????? According to the PPNA this week and the Nadig newspaper, the Theater WILL be open as of the First of the year!!!!!! YAY!!!

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on November 12, 2005 at 12:14 am

I don’t believe that Patrick Crowley is necessarily supporting your cause Paul.

Anyone who calls this man has been given fair warning.

rroberts on November 6, 2005 at 4:17 am

Mr. Crowley is the voice of reason. Thank you. We have always been available to discuss theatres with those who do not hide in anonimity or have a personal ax to grind. Our office is in Wheaton and we will share our projects there to those who make an appointment. Thanks.

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on November 2, 2005 at 2:50 pm

We’d like to remind everyone to keep the conversation here productive.

When posting a comment, please make sure your comment is informative, friendly, and free of personal attacks. If you fail to follow these guidelines (and our terms of use), your comment will be removed.

Due to recent activity, we’re also considering not allowing new comments on this theater. It would be a shame to take this step, but if people are unable to respect the rules of this open forum, we may be forced to take action.

Remember… we can only save theaters if we work together. ;)

Patrick Crowley
Co-founder, Cinema Treasures

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on October 25, 2005 at 12:40 pm

Paul F: I give Paul W. a hard time because he has a long string of failure. All the information I have makes him look like a cancer on the preservation community. What positive stories have you heard? Paul refuses to share his (claimed) successes with the rest of us…which is ridiculous. Why would you hide your successes? If I could find just one story of this guy helping a community to restore their theatre, I would stop giving him a hard time.

Paul W: those are citable references listed above. One of them talks of you being evicted from the building.

And how about these accounts posted on the Wheaton Grand site from someone familiar with the Portage debacle?

The church didn’t come until you were ordered out and could not pay your bills—it was a last ditch effort to try and recoup some more money. As for your partners—you yourself called Ms. Deans a “bitch” after she walked away. Has Mr. Pales and his mother not sued you? Poor Mr. Miner couldn’t sleep at night after you fell apart. Yes, maybe the name on the cease and desist order was the Portage Theatre and not the Henslowe group—remember you weren’t even in the country when it actually happened—you were out of the country. Also you didn’t assume financial responsibility—many of us went unpaid for our wages and any supplies bought for you and your venture—don’t try and portray yourself as a good and respectful individual. You are a con! Nobody went after the other 3 partners because they were led astray like the rest of us. If not, where are they now? Please enough with trying to get the rest of us to feel sorry for you. Just move on—as far as I am concerned my purpose is to make sure you do not do to another community as you have done in the past. Try and get a legitimate job for once—not one that you are hoping to live off of others. When was the last time you earned a legitimate salary? That means not accepting money from business ventures and using that? Enough already.
posted by disgruntledemployee on Sep 12, 2005 at 2:29pm

Too bad about Havana. I worked with Paul in Chicago—the exact same thing happened there. As an employee—you are only as useful until you shut your checkbook. Then you become a “volunteer”. Let’s see if I get the scenario right? A man (Paul) comes in and declares he spends his life restoring theatres. His dream is re-open “this” one.
He needs help (usually teenagers and unsuspecting employees)—when money gets tight he asks the local government for money. When denied he looks to book “investors”—people to help him follow his dream. He thinks how he can divide the theatre into 3. More deposits come in from those groups hoping to get a piece of the
action (sorry—no theatre gets divided-no deposits returned). He then books bands and accepts deposits (now you know Wheaton why he was upset about bands not being allowed to play. Then we blame the local governement about repairs (wasn’t that the case in Chicago—2 venues-Wheaton now Havana—) Then nobody but Paul gets any money. The bills in Chicago; Havana; how are your bills Wheaton? go unpaid. Now let’s get to the employees. All of sudden (after being told of the Grand Opening) there is no money to be paid to employees and now they are called thiefs and volunteers. Sorry Paul—used that excuse many times. Anybody who didn’t “invest” is insulted and called liars. There are so many of us following your footsteps—maybe it is time to try your con in another state. Just remember, the internet is a wonderful tool. Let’s all of us “volunteers” make it our mission to not let him continue. How do you sleep at night Paul? Are there any available lawyers out there to help us with the possibility of a class action lawsuit? Can all of us who were left out to dry possibly take Paul to court? Mr. Novelli—maybe you could help? Have you woke up yet to Paul or are you just slower than normal? How much money did Paul make on ticket sales in Havana? Where is all that money? Certainly not paying bills or employees. Just like in Chicago—go forth and sell calendars on street corners to generate money. Who got that money—Paul did and he was able to travel out of the country while leaving others to possibly get arrested by City officials after being told the theater was fine to open. He then blamed aldermen and the mayor for not turning their backs on an unsafe building and allow patrons in. Paul doesn’t like rules and regulations. He also can’t stand people just a little bit smarter than him—which is most. It just takes us a little longer because most of us have never met a con man before. Our human nature tends to lead us to trust everyone—which now I trust no one. Most of us start out trusting and liking Paul but quickly learn. Are there any out there who started working with Paul and still admire him? Mike where did you come from? You weren’t with him in Chicago? Haven’t you learned yet (others are slower than the rest of us) or are you a con man too? I certainly would break away from Paul as soon as possible. Is this the type of man to be friends with? How is he able to pay you and not mininum wage workers? Again sorry Havana—you were warned. Best of luck Wheaton—you may be the first and only theater to stay on your feet after Paul and go forth. There are many others behind you and cheering you on. As for all others—let’s just watch the internet and watch where Paul goes next.
posted by disgruntledemployee on Sep 12, 2005 at 7:49am

rroberts on October 25, 2005 at 10:40 am

That you, Mr. Fortini: You are correct that the big corporations can earn tax credits, obtain financial incentives from the city because they are big and intent on spending big capital. Small developers like our company cannot compete especially in neighborhood markets. When we had the Portage we had a financial plan that worked: rent theatre space to four different tenants. We had agreements with three, the PPA license in process, an architect on hand, a small staff, etc. Then the city told us about the generator required to obtain a PPA license. The landlord didn’t want to pay so we sublet the place to a church. They started a remodel without a permit… shut down altogether. This is all included above but we did TRY to make the theatre functional while keeping some architectural elements. I think our plan could fly if someone with enough capital would join the project. We are happy to share those plans with any qualified firm or individual but as you can tell there are gadflys that try to undermine all our work. Still, we persevere. Mr. Fortini or others, please call us if you want to discuss the Portage. (630) 480-3345. Thank you.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on October 25, 2005 at 8:27 am

Paul Warshauer,

I hope that this does not turn into another “he said/she said” a la the DuPage or the Wheaton Grand. I don’t know much about you and I’ve heard both good and bad things about you. But as you’ve said above, it can be nearly impossible to deal with City Hall here in Chicago. And yet, a bankrupt firm like General Cinemas received special incentives from the City to build the City North 14 (the City wanted the old Goldblatt’s Site demolished and replaced). The City North 14 was built in less than 6 months! (I do admit that I like the City North 14, though!).

I had the opportunity to walk down Milwaukee Avenue at 6 Corners for the first time in many years yesterday. I was on my way to the costume shop there and I could not believe how desolate and run-down the street is! Vacant storefront after vacant storefront. Even the big steakhouse was closed. Was I in Portage Park (a good neighborhood) or somewhere in the ghetto.

I’ve often said that I’m not “pro-preservation-at-any-cost.” I believe in preservation where it make sense and a redeveloped Portage theatre could greatly aid Milwaukee Avenue. And as you said above, at least you tried to preserve this place.

By the way, the marquee on the Portage now says “Go Sox.”

rroberts on October 20, 2005 at 6:31 pm

Wow, lookie: two really old articles posted here without more details…for what purpose?? What axe are you still trying to grind? Give it up and find a day job. You will notice that no one has done anything since we left. At least we tried, pal. Have you done anything??? For the record…again. The church group who was subletting from us did the repairs and construction and had the cease and desist order, not us. Get yoru facts straight.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on October 20, 2005 at 12:37 pm

Chicago Sun-Times
By David Roeder
Sun-Times Columnist
February 11, 2004

THEATER ROW: Things seem to be going from bad to worse for Paul Warshauer, who wants to reopen the old Portage Park Theatre, 4050 N. Milwaukee, with old movies and live children’s shows. The city has held up his license and he now says that to pay his bills he will sublease part of the space to a church that promises three services a day.
That has Ald. Patrick Levar (45th) and some people in the neighborhood fuming. Levar said a church needs to get a special-use zoning classification before it can open in the Six Corners commercial area. Besides, he said, people “don’t want a storefront church'‘ at that location. Levar said the city’s license objections deal with fire codes and access, issues that became more urgent after the E2 nightclub disaster. "My concern is public safety and he’s going to have to dot all the 'i’s and cross the ’t’s,’‘ Levar said. Some renovations Warshauer already has performed were without a permit, he said.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on October 20, 2005 at 12:34 pm

Meeting Minutes â€" April 12, 2004
Date of issuance: April 13, 2004
Portage Park Neighborhood Association â€" Public Meeting
Monday, April 12, 2004, 7:30 p.m.

I. Meeting Called to Order by Gerard Staniszewski, 2nd Neil Krus at 8 p.m.

II. President’s Opening Statement: Gerard Staniszewski made two announcements:
1. The next Clean & Green will be held Saturday, May 1. Those interested in participating should
meet at 4026 N. LaPorte (city parking lot), 8:30 a.m.
2. Paul Warshauer, who spoke at the last meeting, is still in the process of being evicted by the
Portage Park Theater owner. Another group is expressing interest in buying the theatre and wants
to make a presentation to the PPNA at the May meeting. Gerard urges everyone to attend the
meeting for their input. In answer to an attendee’s question, he says the group is NOT the
Universal Church.

rroberts on September 16, 2005 at 5:04 am

Thank you Robert Bank! Finally. You understand how difficult it is to operate a theatre in Chicago. The Portage still has a good chance of being a success. I will gladly give all of our files to anyone who wants to take a chance. Call us, if you wish. (630) 480-3345.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on September 14, 2005 at 8:17 am

And, just down the road, the Logan Theatre seems to be doing well, too. And that area is gentrifying.

robabank1 on September 14, 2005 at 7:12 am

Paul Warshauer how are you doing in the suburbs?
It’s tragic that the Portage sits idle and its terrible how the City stymied your every effort to re-open it.
Just a couple of miles east on another angled street (Lincoln), the Davis Theatre shows first run movies, the street is filled with stores, restaurants and coffee houses but on Milwaukee Avenue where the Portage sits shuttered the street looks like downtown Bagdad.
How can two similar neighborhoods in so many respects be so different?

rroberts on May 12, 2005 at 8:31 am

Is anything happening with the theatre thse days?

Broan on May 11, 2005 at 5:30 pm

Here is a 1953 photo of the then-bustling Six Corners, with the Portage’s vertical sign faintly visible in the background.

Elizabeth on January 31, 2005 at 2:47 pm

thats the picture I have referred too.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 25, 2005 at 11:25 am

The sign in question also carried M&R’s logo.

Elizabeth on January 24, 2005 at 6:46 am

Vertical would have been a better way to describe it..I sent a picture to paul, Once this site can handle more pictures, Ill get the one I have of it posted. Do we know where it is?