Empty Uptown 'Palace' in a Jam

Money, power and a different vision at heart of ongoing delays

Wednesday, Jan 7, 2009  |  Updated 8:09 AM CDT
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Empty Uptown 'Palace' in a Jam

uptownupdate.com

Money, power and a long-standing dispute may be standing in the way of any renovation of the ornate and stunning Uptown Theater in Chicago.

Opened in 1925 as the largest movie palace in the country, the Uptown Theater was a destination location in its day.  But its day has passed and the ornate, 4,300 seat venue has sat vacant for the last 25 years.

Now there's some action around the theater, as Jam Productions, which obtained ownership of the location in a foreclosure auction last summer, turns to the city of Chicago for help in getting the place back up and running.

But, it's not a simple fix.  Jam is asking for up to $40 million from a city fighting a huge budget deficit, and Jam doesn't have the support of the alderman of the ward where the theater is located.

48th Ward alderman Mary Ann Smith is actually pushing a deal which would strip Jam of its ownership and transfer the property to a competitor.  Smith and Jam apparently have a long-standing conflict, so the proposed deal means nothing but trouble for the lonely Uptown, and likely a long battle which will leave the one-time beauty unused.

Read more from Wednesday's Chicago Sun-Times.

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