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Partnership in the Works for Congress, Portage Theaters

By Victoria Johnson | December 17, 2012 1:12pm | Updated on January 8, 2013 6:34am
 The Congress Theater at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave.
The Congress Theater at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave.
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DNAinfo/Victoria Johnson

CHICAGO — The owner of the Congress Theater in Logan Square and the Portage Theater in Portage Park said a corporate partnership is in the work for both venues.

Eddie Carranza said Monday a partnership with a larger corporation was in talks, but said he could not go into greater detail.

Such partnerships are common for larger venues, such as Live Nation and the House of Blues, or Jam Productions and the Vic, Riviera and Park West.

"All I'm going to say is we have a partnership in the works — a partnership that's going to invest money into both theaters," Carranza said.

He would not name the partner, saying only that it is a "large corporation."

"A lot of genres that we don't do now, we're going to be doing a lot more after this merger," he said. "Because we're limited in resources and capital, right now we're very electronic- and punk-focused."

Some of those new genres include country, adult contemporary, jazz, blues and comedy, Carranza said, adding that the new funds would also mean renovations for both theaters.

Carranza has had some friction with the current management at the Portage, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., since he bought the theater in October. 

A rally to "Save the Portage Theater As We Know It," scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday by activists fearing that the Portage will end its presentation of films to make room for music is advertised right on the theater's home page

Meanwhile, the Congress, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave.,  had been the subject of numerous complaints from neighbors about loud music, trash, drunk patrons and other safety issues. However, at the most recent community meeting regarding the Congress, fewer complaints were lodged and the company said improvements were being made.

Though the merger has not gone through yet, Carranza said he was "90 percent sure" a deal would be struck in the coming weeks.

"It's going to be big," he said.

Meanwhile, both Carranza and his lawyer Tom Raines said a problem with the Congress Theater's mortgage that led to PNC Bank filing a foreclosure lawsuit has been resolved.

"It's all worked out. It's a non-issue," Raines said.

In the lawsuit, the bank stated that after four years of monthly payments, Carranza was required to pay the remaining principal, about $3.7 million, in full.

According to Raines, Carranza was looking to refinance the loan and was supposed to have insurance in place before the bank would allow it. Carranza missed the deadline, resulting in the foreclosure lawsuit.

Raines said Carranza has now secured a refinanced loan with another bank that is set to be finalized the first week of January.

According to federal court records, PNC Bank has not taken any additional actions since the lawsuit was filed Nov. 27.