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Portage Theater Owner Sorry for Calling Neighborhood 'Sh---y'

By Heather Cherone | September 17, 2013 3:40pm | Updated on September 17, 2013 5:22pm
  Portage Theater owner Eddie Carranza missed a payment, causing the gas to be shut off to more than two dozen apartments.
Residents of Portage Theater Apartments Left Without Gas for Four Days
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PORTAGE PARK — Portage Theater owner Eddie Carranza apologized Tuesday for calling Portage Park a "sh---y neighborhood" after he failed to pay the historic building's gas bill, leaving residents without heat or hot water for four days.

Carranza said he misspoke in an interview with DNAinfo.com Chicago Monday, and did not mean to insult the Portage Park community.

On Monday, Carranza said of the gas shut-off: "I don't know why it is such a big deal. The bigger deal is how I'm improving that sh---y neighborhood."

Carranza said Tuesday he meant to refer to the buildings he owns at 4042-60 N. Milwaukee Ave. and 4905-15 W. Cuyler Ave. and across Milwaukee Avenue from the theater as "sh---y." 

 The Portage Theater
The Portage Theater
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"The buildings that I own there are dilapidated," Carranza said. "They are in desperate need of repair."

Portage Park residents took to Facebook and Reddit to criticize Carranza, and blamed him for the stalled redevelopment of Six Corners.

Carranza paid the gas bill Tuesday for the 28 apartments above and adjacent to the Portage Theater with a cashier's check, Peoples Gas spokeswoman Jennifer Block said.

Gas service was restored to the apartments by 3 p.m., Block said.

Carranza said Monday he couldn't pay the bill because the theater in the heart of the Six Corners Shopping District hasn't hosted a show since May. And he blamed the theater's previous owners for sticking him with a past-due bill of nearly $25,000.

Carranza closed the Portage May 24 after Ald. John Arena (45th) said he would not allow Carranza to take over the liquor and public place of amusement licenses at the theater near Six Corners based on the theater operator's pockmarked track record at the Congress.

A recently signed deal with a "high-end developer" to remake the theater, the nearby storefronts and the apartments has put an end to his financial issues, Carranza said. However, the theater owner would not identify the partner or discuss details of his plans.

Arena said he referred tenants of the Portage Theater apartments who contacted his office for help after the gas shut off to the Metropolitan Tenant Organization, and would work with that group to assist them.

In addition, Carranza is $3,000 behind on his water bill as of Sept. 4, Arena said. 

"We're deeply concerned about Mr. Carranza's financial ability to meet his obligations as a landlord and will be monitoring the property closely," Arena said.

Carranza said he was not sure if he was behind on his water bill, but acknowledged that he might be because of the lack of shows at the Portage.

"I'm hopeful we will recover soon," Carranza said.