PORTAGE PARK — City officials have asked a judge to order Portage Theater owner Eddie Carranza to repair two "dangerous and dilapidated" porches leading to the apartment buildings attached to the former Six Corners movie palace.
The three-story wooden porch behind 4905-15 W. Cuyler Ave. has split and rotting stairs and columns as well as loose and rotted beams, boards and railings, all covered in peeling paint, according to a violation filed by city building inspectors.
Heather Cherone joins DNAinfo to talk about the Portage Theater porches:
Another porch at 4042-60 N. Milwaukee Ave. that leads to a second-floor stairway is also dangerous, with rotted railings, boards and steps, according to a second violation filed by city building inspectors.
Neither Carranza nor his spokesman Joe Houlihan responded to repeated requests for comment about the building violations filed by city officials after visits in March to the theater and the 28-unit apartment building above and next to the theater, which has been shuttered for nearly a year.
Carranza was cited for failing to "rebuild or replace dilapidated and dangerous porch," and city officials have asked him to appear before a judge to respond to the city’s findings, said Mimi Simon, a spokeswoman for the city's Buildings Department.
A court date has not been set in Carranza's case, she added.
When city officials tried to inspect the theater itself last Aug. 5, as required by the theater’s public place of amusement license, no one was there to let the inspectors in.
Inspectors were not allowed to enter the theater until March 18, Simon said. The inspectors discovered the dangerous porches during that visit, Simon said.
In September, Carranza told DNAinfo Chicago that the apartments he owns on Milwaukee Avenue and Cuyler Avenue are “dilapidated” and “in urgent need of repair” after an unpaid bill resulted in a three-day gas shut-off that left the apartments without heat.
The theater in the heart of the Six Corners shopping district hasn't hosted a show for a year.
Carranza closed the Portage 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 based on the theater operator's pockmarked track record at Logan Square’s Congress Theater.
Carranza has announced a series of plans for the theater several times in the last year, none of which have come to fruition.
Once the premier shopping district in Chicago outside the Loop, the Six Corners shopping district near Irving Park Road and Milwaukee and Cicero avenues was the home of dozens of stores offering shoppers their hearts' desire and a chance to see a movie at the Portage Theater, which was built in the 1920s.
But development at Six Corners has been stalled by the closure of the Portage Theater, which a master plan approved by the city calls the key to revitalizing the area.
In spring 2013, city officials closed down the Congress because of building violations.
In addition, Carranza lost his liquor license at the Congress around the same time that city officials charged that his staff failed to cooperate with police and created a “public nuisance” with five drug-related violations in an eight-month period.