PORTAGE PARK — Portage Theater owner Eddie Carranza said Tuesday he is not interested in buying the Patio Theater, which is set to close at the end of the month because of a busted heating and air conditioning system.
Carranza, who also owns the Congress Theater in Logan Square, initially indicated Monday he would be interested in buying the Patio. But on Tuesday, he said he's not. A spokesman said Carranza's interest had been misinterpreted.
Spokesman Joe Houlihan said Tuesday Carranza has "no intention of making an offer to purchase the Patio Theater and has not had any contact with any of the owners of the Patio Theater."
When asked in a text message by DNAinfo Chicago on Monday whether he was interested in buying the Patio Theater, Carranza said "Yes I would be interested in working with him sharing ideas experiences and resources to help both venues share programming."
Houlihan said that had been misinterpreted by DNAinfo Chicago.
"The Portage and the Patio are neighbors," Carranza said Monday. "We should help each other."
Patio Theater owner Demetri Kouvalis said Friday he could no longer operate the Patio after its heating and air conditioning system broke in the same year.
He said he's not interested in Carranza's offer because of Carranza's track record at the Portage, which he abruptly shut down 11 months ago, and the Congress, which was shuttered after city officials yanked Carranza's liquor license and declared it unsafe because of building code violations.
"The Portage is dead, basically," Kouvalis said, adding that Carranza had not contacted him about his interest in the Patio, which the Kouvalis family has owned since 1987.
"I'd rather work with someone who has a vision of what the Patio can be," Kouvalis said, adding that the theater needs about $50,000 to return to viability.
Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th) said he would look very closely at Carranza's record before deciding whether to support a bid from Carranza for the Patio. Carranza has feuded with Ald. John Arena (45th) since the moment he bought the Portage Theater in the heart of the Six Corners Shopping District in September 2011.
"His record would give me pause," Cullerton said, adding that Carranza has not contacted his office.
The Patio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park, needs a more aggressive, pro-active owner committed to revitalizing the Irving-Austin Business District, Cullerton said.
On Friday, Kouvalis said he hopes to find a partner or an investor who can repair the 87-year-old building and renovate it to allow live events to be held. That would require a public place of amusement license and liquor license from the city.
In January, Carranza announced he planned to sell the Congress Theater and use the proceeds from that sale to invest in and reopen the Portage Theater.
But no progress has been made at the Portage because of lawsuits challenging Carranza's right to sell the Logan Square landmark to Michael Moyer, who transformed the Downtown theater now known as Cadillac Palace, which primarily presents stage shows.
The Portage Theater has been dark since the end of May 2013, and the Congress hasn't hosted a show since the beginning of June 2013.
Residents of apartments in the Portage Theater building were without gas for four days in September after Carranza failed to pay the building's past-due gas bill of nearly $25,000, telling DNAinfo Chicago that he had no cash flow because both theaters were dark.