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Uptown Theatre Revival: City Expecting Finance Plan by December

By Adeshina Emmanuel | August 27, 2013 9:51am
 The Uptown Theatre, shuttered for decades, could finally be revitalized as part of a plan for a bolstered Uptown Entertainment District.
The Uptown Theatre, shuttered for decades, could finally be revitalized as part of a plan for a bolstered Uptown Entertainment District.
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DNAinfo/Adeshina Emmanuel

UPTOWN — A financial plan to revitalize the Uptown Theatre could be submitted to the city by the vacant venue's owner by Dec. 1, according to the office of Ald. James Cappleman (46th).

Bringing the theater back to life is considered an important part of creating a thriving entertainment destination in Uptown.

On Monday, Cappleman aide Abby Sullivan said at the 46th Ward Zoning and Development Committee meeting that the city had asked owner Jerry Mickelson for a financial plan to redevelop the Uptown Theatre and was expecting it by Dec. 1.

The renovation would cost about $70 million, according to the alderman's office. The financing package might include a blend of private funds and government assistance, including federal tax credits and Tax Increment Financing dollars, according to officials.

The ornate but deteriorated movie palace was built in 1925 at 4816 N. Broadway and held its last show in 1981. It spans 46,000 square feet and boasts 4,400 seats.

Though many promises have been made about bringing back the theater, few steps have been taken to fix it up, and it's been empty and in disrepair for more than 30 years.

But Cappleman said in an email to constituents earlier this month that, “Work at the Uptown continues to protect the building from water intrusion and damage while a long-term redevelopment plan is worked out."

In July, the owner of the theater was ordered in city housing court to have a structural engineer perform a critical examination of the building’s facade and the interior and exterior of its chimney, and make necessary boiler repairs by Dec. 1.The owner's lawyers also agreed to have a leaking pipe that extended from the roof to the basement repaired.

The theater will be back in housing court on Dec. 17 so the city can check on the status of repairs.

Meanwhile, Paramount Pictures plans to film sequences for the blockbuster film "Transformers 4" this week, and has been making improvements to the building in preparation, according to Friends of the Uptown, a group of volunteers and boosters supporting the building's renovation.

Cappleman said at the meeting Monday that revenue from letting Paramount film at the theater would be funneled into its redevelopment.

Mickelson was unreachable for comment Tuesday.

Another one of his Uptown venues, the Riviera Theatre also has been in housing court recently to address exterior building code violations, and is being repaired, court documents show. Some Uptown residents have expressed concerns about the prospects of an Uptown Theatre revival in light of Mickelson's problems with the Riviera.