Uptown Theatre Rehab Expected to Get $10M Boost After Illinois Senate Vote

By Adeshina Emmanuel on May 30, 2014 6:16am 

 The Uptown Theatre could get $10 million in state funds for a long-awaited rehab.
The Uptown Theatre could get $10 million in state funds for a long-awaited rehab.
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DNAinfo/Adeshina Emmanuel

UPTOWN — The Uptown Theatre has a friend in Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton, and could get $10 million toward its renovation if the Senate approves a bill negotiated by the politician with the building's rebirth in mind.

"He is a longtime supporter of plans for an arts-based revitalization of Uptown," Cullerton's spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said Thursday. "As a supporter, Cullerton is redirecting preapproved capital funds to jump-start the restoration of [the] Uptown Theatre — the centerpiece of a larger effort to revitalize the area."

The statement came a day after the Illinois House voted in favor of a nearly $20 billion construction spending package that included the Uptown Theatre money, as well as $50 million for Chicago teacher pensions and $35 million for Chicago school construction.

The $10 million that would go toward the theater, vacant since 1981, is nothing to sniff at.

But it's only a portion of a renovation Phelon said Cullerton expects will cost "upwards of $80 million."

Jam Productions' Jerry Mickelson, owner of the theater at 4618 N. Broadway, could not be reached for comment. No financial or redevelopment plan for the theater has been released. The theater has been in city housing court regarding complaints related to its facade, heating system and water damage.

Phelon emphasized that the funds going to the Uptown Theatre are part of a reappropriation bill using leftover capital construction resources from a bill passed in 2009.

She said she expected the bill to pass the Democrat-led Illinois Senate after a Friday vote.

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