Uptown Theatre

4816 N. Broadway,
Chicago, IL 60640

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Showing 151 - 175 of 452 comments

uptownjen on July 29, 2008 at 6:29 pm

the more i look into this, the worse it gets…

the sun-times article upset me even more when i looked into the possible partner mentioned by JAM, joseph freed and associates. from their own website, it looks like they are mostly interested in residential and mixed-use facilities.

here’s their slogan on their website: “an entrepreneurial real estate company that develops, acquires, and operates retail and mixed-use properties nationally with dedication to long-term value creation.” i don’t know about you, but i think that says a lot about what THEIR plans are for a building like the uptown.

here’s a blog from someone who knows about this company:

Heads up vendors, suppliers and others in the Madison, Wisconsin market: Joseph Freed & Associates is all about sticking it to you. Beyond changing the face and plans of their Hilldale project countless times and reneging on promises to retailers regarding the residential community they were going to bring them (there are no more plans for residential), they turn on their suppliers and leave them holding the bags on hundreds of thousands of dollars that, suddenly, after months and months, they either decide to contest or just don’t pay. It’s not just Madison either. Check out their history in Denver! Where are the Madison lawmakers in this?

this all just looks horrible to me. i’m sick about it.

Darrel Wood
Darrel Wood on July 29, 2008 at 4:34 pm

If it’s going to be restored, it will need public funds. No private company will finance something like this renovation out of completely private funds. (Even Disney, which has dumped millions on its theatres, has tight purse strings).
But at least untangling the ownership/mortgage mess will help get this thing rolling. Perhaps a public/private joint venture will allow the funding to get pulled together. Part of that big restoration cost will be building additional parking for the neighborhood.

uptownjen on July 29, 2008 at 12:46 pm

i meant to say that jam already puts on shows at the aragon AND owns the riv.

the state of the riv is what really scares me into thinking that they may have bought it for a reason other than restoration.

i hate that i sound like cynic now. i love the uptown, and, still, at the end of the day, want to see it restored to all of its former glory! i guess a buyer is a step toward a good outcome, right?

uptownjen on July 29, 2008 at 12:42 pm

jam…a third venue in the neighborhood? this worries me…i hope i’m wrong.

Jayne1955 on July 29, 2008 at 11:13 am

I don’t just want the facade and marquee saved. I want this theatre used for the purpose it was intended. We don’t need another Century.

Melodance on July 29, 2008 at 10:42 am

There’s a good article in today’s Trib by Chris Jones. Also read the reader’s comments, many are hoping for a positive outcome.

View link

Let’s hope this auction does what Chris says—put the theatre on its way to renovation and finally reopening!

TeamUptown on July 29, 2008 at 10:41 am

Just got off the phone with Arny Granet Jam own’s the Uptown Theater!

RobertR on July 29, 2008 at 5:55 am

Will the Dupage page ever get unlocked? I would love to know how the battle ended and if the facade and marquee were saved?

TheaterBuff1 on July 29, 2008 at 2:41 am

Rene Rabiela Jr. and Uptownjen, if I understand you both correctly, essentially you’re saying that the same formula that was applied to bringing down the DuPage is now about to be applied to the Uptown as well, all under the guise of an “effort” being made to “save” it. I’m starting to better understand this pattern now, though I was a bit slow at first.

uptownjen on July 28, 2008 at 7:42 pm

first off, thanks, william, for your clarification. i don’t know much about these things, but i hope it isn’t a factor in this case anyway.

rene, thanks for your thoughts as well. i hope you are right.

i just received an email from friends of the uptown, which tells of coverage of tomorrow’s auction and details of what might be in store for the jewel of the neighborhood i call home.

UPTOWN on the radio Tuesday

Eight Forty-Eight reporters have been working since last Friday on
covering the scheduled judicial auction of the UPTOWN THEATRE
property, 4816 N. Broadway, in Chicago, which is set for tomorrow,
Tuesday, July 29.

(The best of our collective understanding is…) This sale was
rescheduled from previously cancelled dates. It is based on a judge's
decision to force two parties to sell their interests to one party.

What’s for sale? The property and all of its debt, including debt
from previous owners borrowing against it and from liens for services
provided, such as scaffolding and stabilization.

Observers anticipate that two known prospects – JAM Productions and
Live Nation, who each own portions of the debt – will be first in
line at the sale. However, no specific plans or intentions have been
made public.

Purchasing the building and its debt could be a first step toward
renovation and reuse. However, one has to keep in mind that tens of
millions of dollars will be needed after satisfying the purchase cost
and debt in order to actually renovate the theatre for some
entertainment use.

The news radio show Eight Forty-Eight airs at 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on
WBEZ, 91.5 FM, in Chicago and streams online via:


Both Crain’s Chicago Business and rock critic Jim DeRogatis have
covered this topic well in recent stories.

View link

View link

TeamUptown on July 28, 2008 at 12:41 pm

For the past five years the Uptown Theater Renovation Project,
has worked extremely hard in making the case for the Uptown
Theater to be renovated, so that future generations could enjoy this magnificent venue. It was no easy task to convince anyone to spend
millions of dollars to restore it to its former glory.
I am the son of the last person to operate this magnificent venue,
Rene Rabiela SR. And it’s no big secret I have a big soft spot for the place. So after seeing organization’s come and go, I felt the responsibility of making sure that theater didnt go the way of the Granada or any of the other demolished movie palaces we all miss.
So when I put together U.T.R.P. I wanted to make sure that it would not fail the way other’s did in the past. I am extremely proud of the team I put together. Everyone on this team shared the same passion for the Uptown as I did. We brought in the big promoter's
and we showed them how they could spend all those millions and make it back in a reasonable amount of time. It wasnt easy, AEG, passed on the theater, saying for the amount it would take to renovate
the theater they could build a new one. We brought in Elevated,
formerly Clear Channel, now Live Nation. Our passion was shared
with Live Nation as well as with Jam Production’s. And now the theater that everyone seemingly wrote off, is now being fought over.
The worse appears to over? Let’s hope that as my good friend David Balaban say’s this is the end, but really the beginning.

Rene Rabiela Jr.

William on July 28, 2008 at 11:42 am

uptownjen, People think because of the size of that building it would be difficult to remove. Theatres are much easier to raze than other types of buildings. I’ve seen a few large buildings in Times Square get razed without any problems to the neighboring stores and restaurants in the area.

uptownjen on July 28, 2008 at 5:37 am

the area that the uptown is slowly improving right now. still, i think it has been said before in the past that, due to its size and location, it would take a whole lot of money to demolish. (the dupage, referred to in the last post, was 1/5 the seating size of the uptown and much less ornate. it was also located in a seperate block of its own, from all the pictures i’ve seen. the uptown is located in the middle of a block surrounded by mostly bars and hip restaurants, making it much more difficult and expensive to remove.) i hope that works in favor of saving it. i don’t think that the land is super “hot” (at least, not yet!)and the condo market is pretty cold here right now, with many new, empty condos awaiting occupancy in the area, so that also makes me think it won’t be demolished.

so far, i would say that the biggest threat to the place would be having a show promotion company of some sort buy it to eliminate possible competition and then leave it to sit and decay. (this has been mentioned in various articles in chicago papers, since both jam, a local promoter, and live nation, a national promoter, want to buy it.) i hate to say it, but i myself would much rather see it reused in some way than just to sit there, a few blocks from where i live, rotting and dying a slow death. it’s still lovely…it just needs some new life breathed into it.

hopefully, with the sale, the city will stipulate that whoever buys it has to put money into restoring it. that was done recently with the sale of the regal on the south side. still, i don’t know how possible it is, at this point, for the city to intervene, being that the sale is supposedly being handled by an outside foreclosure auctioneer.

TheaterBuff1 on July 27, 2008 at 10:34 pm

Do I see another DuPage tragedy in the making with this latest news flash? I sure hope not! The DuPage was another theater designed by the firm of Rapp & Rapp, in its case, located in Lombard, which is a suburb of Chicago. And in that case there was a heated rush to demolish it by a group of backwards-minded disidents even there was a sincere effort made on the part of a well-meaning group to try to restore it. But sadly, under the worse type of politics imaginable, it got demolished, while I wonder if we’ll see a repeat of that again here. I thought there was a good plan underway to restore the historic Uptown, so this news comes as a major shock to me!

Jayne1955 on July 26, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Well, Chicago let a lot of it’s classic theatres go, too. The Granada, the Nortown, the Norshore, the Paradise, the Roosevelt, the Century, the Marboro…I could name twenty that were all unique in their own ways. This one should be saved, not just because it’s truly unique, but also because there are very few left. We’ve got to start appreciated our past more.

I’ll never really get over losing the Granada and the Nortown. I felt a piece of my break with both of those.

philbertgray on July 25, 2008 at 3:14 pm

I hope this theatre can be saved. It is huge inside. What a loss if Chicago lets this one slip. They should look to the irreversible damage the city of San Francisco has allowed to happen to many of its classic theatres.

balabanandkatz on July 22, 2008 at 4:58 am

I forgot to mention, my email is
thanks! David Balaban

balabanandkatz on July 21, 2008 at 11:29 am

There is a rumor going around that the final ownership of the theatre will be decided by the end of September. I took a walking tour with my friend Rene Rabiela Jr.a few days ago.(his dad, Rene Rabiela operated the theatre during its time as a rock and roll palace). The inside of the theater is in pretty rough shape but it is overewelmingly beautiful. There is a slide show of that tour on our website. www.balabanandkatzmagazine.com Check it out. Email me with any questions..
David Balaban
Balaban and katz historical foundation
posted by balabanandkatz on Jul 21, 2008 at 10:26am

uptownadviser on July 21, 2008 at 10:48 am

The chief of security at the UPTOWN continues to ask that interior photos not be posted online at this time due to security concerns. The building is probably one of the most photographed theatres of all time, and many historic photos are available through Theatre Historical Socity of America at www.historictheatres.org Photos taken on rare, approved tours are supposed to be for personal enjoyment only. Unfortunately, people still try to break in the building’s dozens of doors. There have been petty thefts in recent years, including a not-historic bust from a niche. We don’t want to risk any damage or theft to the building. We also don’t want to make it even more challenging for security. We’ve respected this specific request, online, since 1998 at www.uptowntheatre.com

balabanandkatz on July 21, 2008 at 10:26 am

There is a rumor going around that the final ownership of the theatre will be decided by the end of September. I took a walking tour with my friend Rene Rabiela Jr.a few days ago.(his dad, Rene Rabiela operated the theatre during its time as a rock and roll palace). The inside of the theater is in pretty rough shape but it is overewelmingly beautiful. There is a slide show of that tour on our website. www.balabanandkatzmagaine.com Check it out. Email me with any questions..
David Balaban
Balaban and katz historical foundation

uptownjen on May 19, 2008 at 2:05 pm

this blog explains what is happening at this moment with the uptown. it’s not much new news, though.

View link

k1052 on May 13, 2008 at 7:19 am

Warshauer is the Chairman of the Retzler Development Group so old news basically. No new entity has yet secured title on the property and won’t until the court cases run their course.

From what I’ve seen it looks appears that the city would prefer Live Nation be successful in their bid given the company’s deep pockets and the fact that they have the most to gain by restoring and operating the venue as quickly as possible. Unless something remarkable happens I’d expect that to be the eventual outcome though its going to take some more time.

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on May 11, 2008 at 7:06 am

I’m confused too. What does the Retzler group hope to do with the Uptown? And what’s happened to the other companies who were supposedly interested in this incredible theatre?

uptownjen on May 10, 2008 at 7:45 pm

thanks for the link, but i am personally confused as to what their involvement is with this theatre.