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Congress Theater Must Remain Closed; Artopia Fest Looks For New Venue

By Victoria Johnson | June 20, 2013 3:56pm | Updated on June 20, 2013 5:53pm
 The Congress Theater, located at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., has been battling the city on various fronts.
The Congress Theater, located at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., has been battling the city on various fronts.
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DNAInfo/Victoria Johnson

LOGAN SQUARE — It will be at least another week until the Congress Theater can reopen after its Thursday morning hearing was continued until next week.

All court orders remain in effect until the next hearing to be held next week, city Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew said, adding that an inspection scheduled for this week was also postponed.

The city initially ordered the theater to reduce its capacity from 4,500 to 3,000 when the second floor was ordered closed due to electrical problems, including the lack of an emergency back-up generator.

Then a construction problem on the first floor resulted in that floor, and therefore the entire theater, being shut down.

Owner Eddie Carranza did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

As for the fate of the Artopia Fest, scheduled to be held at the Congress this Sunday, organizer Liz Diaz said she would be looking for another venue to host the indoor art and music festival.

She had not heard from anyone at the Congress Theater as of 3 p.m. Thursday, and was told by a reporter that the theater must remain closed.

"It's a great building, it really is," she said, adding she was disappointed by the news. "I just wanted to bring something positive to it because it is such a beautiful building. It's a Chicago landmark."

This will be the second year for Artopia. Last year's event was held at the Congress Theater, and Diaz said she had a good experience.

"That's why I picked it again," she said, though she added that she did not want to bring hundreds of people into a building that was not up to code.

The Congress Theater is not the only aging Chicago venue struggling with building violations: the Aragon Ballroom and Riviera Theatre — both in Uptown — have also appeared in circuit court for structural problems of their own.