Belpark Theatre

3231 N. Cicero Avenue,
Chicago, IL 60641

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Showing 1 - 25 of 43 comments

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on June 5, 2014 at 12:21 am

Drove by today and saw the red & white Public Notice on the door. Then saw a post on the Chicago Theatre Preservation Alliance Facebook page, that included the below link. The BelPark will be the new home of Chicago Tabernacle. The same folks who originally wanted the Portage Theatre. So good news all around, with both now being saved.

http://vimeo.com/76842540

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on September 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I wonder if the lobby chandelier is original to the theater, or if it was added by one of the post-warehouse tenants.

GFeret
GFeret on July 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm

i’m glad when a religious organization takes over a former theatre, and can live with bingo activity doing similarly, because it means the building’s lease on life has been extended instead of it falling into disuse & vacancy. we’ve had far too many heartbreaking examples of that

what i say above goes double for former theatres which could be characterized as old movie palaces. personally i favor these alternate useages specifically for the distinct possibility at least a percentage can and will revert to film exhibition once again. that’s a goal quite compatible with this cinematreasures site, and why i’d point out a missed opportunity like the BelPark

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on July 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I am late to this discussion, and I haven’t read every comment. But here is my two cents: The Belpark has been positively serving the community as a bingo hall for many years. I really don’t know much about bingo. But it seems like people pay something to get in, play bingo and have a chance to win prize money, while at the same time socializing. That sounds like a good thing. I’d rather see this church take residence in a space that is currently vacant. In a city the size of Chicago there must be at least a few to choose from.

GFeret
GFeret on July 26, 2012 at 7:27 pm

sears parking lot 2-½ block east, not a convenient asset even if sears made it plainly known portage theatre parking was permitted

parking issue aside—it’s not that important to me personally—restoring the belpark yes was a blown theatrical opportunity

Broan
Broan on July 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm

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.

GFeret
GFeret on July 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

of course the BelPark’s different, with potential closeby parking too (Patio theatre doesn’t have that). a blown opportunity

Broan
Broan on July 26, 2012 at 1:46 am

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.

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on July 26, 2012 at 1:36 am

Reread Broan’s comments above. ‘Nuff said.

GFeret
GFeret on July 25, 2012 at 7:51 pm

i don’t share those impressions of that area, having first moved there in 1981

liquor is liquor—restaurant served or store bought

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on July 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I beg to differ about the Elinor. I worked for the Chicago Dept of Human Services for many years in the emergency shelter program. We would only place people in need of temporary housing there as a last resort, because of the unsavory clientele and activities which took place there. The liquor store is a magnet and certainly can’t be compared to a restaurant which serves liquor.

I still live in the area (Jefferson Park), so I know what I’m talking about.

GFeret
GFeret on July 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Music Box would die for a parking lot. I would die for a parking lot going to the Music Box.

Lack of a lot was always cited as the main handicap when the Portage fate looked grim a ½ doz yrs ago.

i solve both above problems on bicycle

plenty of vehicular trafic to go around, and then some, at both cicero/irving park & cicero/belmont. like Community Bank the Hotel Elinor are very longstanding neighborhood fixtures, hardly transient.

6 corners has had great difficulty keeping an anchor store at its large southeast corner, i could rattle off many names going back to Kee

normal access to liquor is the common theme, as such it’s either positive or negative

Broan
Broan on July 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm

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.

GFeret
GFeret on July 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm

“(cicero & belmont) doesn’t have the visibility, transit access, or commercial district….as the portgae does”. Huh? Of course it does as much or moreso as 6 corners. Tell all this to Community Savings Bank president Dale Cleven, i’d bet he’d be surprised to hear it.

if the belpark has too many seats for films it must have too many seats for senior bingo, and that’s not stopping it

objecting to a liquor store across the street? i recall an objection to a a church taking over the portage because then 6 corners restaurants couldn’t get a liquor license!

empty lots, free parking or otherwise, certainly are better than no lots at all

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on July 20, 2012 at 11:23 pm

I do like the terra cotta and would love to see all those stud lights lite on the Belpark, but what about that missing great window and that messed up interior? Belpark 2,004 seats, to many, and all gone. Portage 1,321 seats, more realistic, and on the deck.

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on July 20, 2012 at 10:12 pm

You still also have the issue of a large liquor store and flophouse (transient hotel) directly across the street from the Belpark. Is this the kind of area that is going to attract folks who want to visit the theater?

Broan
Broan on July 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm

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.

GFeret
GFeret on July 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm

i’d say they got it backwards

the film society at the portage should’ve renovated the belpark when they started—not the portage. if they had they’d have a bigger more grande old chicago movie palace, plus plenty nearby parking to boot because of the empty used-car lots right around the belpark that’ve been unused for a few years now. parking’s what they sorely lack there at the portage

with that the church would be just fine at the portage and welcomed to it

Broan
Broan on June 25, 2012 at 8:34 pm

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.

rivest266
rivest266 on June 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Grand opening ad posed here.

Broan
Broan on May 10, 2012 at 6:18 am

the stage is still there but some floors have been inserted, most of it is the kitchen. the booth is still up there empty.

BobbyS
BobbyS on May 10, 2012 at 6:17 am

I wonder if the stage was removed or covered up with drapes. Wonder if it is still there. I assume the seating was removed when it was a banquet hall. But I bet the kino booth is still buried up there..

Broan
Broan on March 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Maybe it was Belmont Park, then, but the theater itself was north of the Belmont Park border (Belmont, Laramie, Diversey, and the Northwestern Tracks). What I meant was that Belmont Park is not an official Neighborhood or Community Area name, but a subdivision within a neighborhood.

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on March 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Broan, My parents and grandparents lived on the Northside, but I was raised on the Southside (still a CUBS Fan). Seems to me they talked about Belmont Park, but I must have got it all mixed up with Belmont Central, Gardens & Cragin along with the Parks of Portage, Hombolt and Albany. Can’t ask them now, they are all at that great movie palace in in the sky.

The old Chief’s not so great at math either, 30 years for the Bepark is even worse!

Chief Jensen

Broan
Broan on March 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Theatre Historical Society of America.