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Patio Theater Should Get Landmark Status: Ald. Cullerton

  The Patio Theater closed its doors at the end of April because of a broken air-conditioning system.
The Patio Theater closed its doors at the end of April because of a broken air-conditioning system.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

PORTAGE PARK — The shuttered Patio Theater should get landmark status to prevent the former movie palace from being torn down, Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th) said Thursday.

The Chicago Commission on Landmarks will consider June 4 whether to begin the lengthy process of adding the Patio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Road, to the list of buildings protected as official Chicago landmarks.

"The Patio is in fairly pristine condition," Cullerton said. "I believe it meets the criteria."

Heather Cherone discusses the proposal for the Portage Park neighborhood theater:

The interior of the former movie palace is particularly well preserved, although the marquee needs some repairs, Cullerton said.

Owner Demetri Kouvalis closed the former movie palace at the end of April, saying he could not afford to fix the building's broken air conditioning system.

Kouvalis could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Cullerton, who called Kouvalis a "wet noodle" for failing to obtain a city grant to fix the 87-year-old theater's heating and air conditioning system, said he had not spoken to Kouvalis about his proposal to landmark the Patio Theater.

"I'm available to help him," Cullerton said. "[Landmark designation] is in his best interest."

Buildings that have landmark status are eligible for tax credits designed to encourage owners to restore the buildings to their former glory.

The designation would also prevent the building from being sold and remodeled or demolished, Cullerton said.

"You never know what someone's plans could be," Cullerton said.

The Patio, and buildings like it, should be preserved as a "bridge to the area's past," Cullerton said.

The Portage Theater, which announced Wednesday it would reopen in June after being closed for a year, was granted landmark status in May 2013.

The Patio Theater, in the heart of the Irving Austin Business District, reopened in 2011 after being closed for a decade. A successful Kickstarter campaign raised $50,000 for a new digital projector.

However, dwindling attendance at second-run Hollywood movies and a yearlong series of setbacks, including a broken furnace and damage caused by the harsh winter, made it impossible for the theater to remain open, Kouvalis has said.

Kouvalis, 25, has said he hopes to find a partner or an investor who can repair the building, but would consider an offer to sell the building, which has been owned by his family since 1987.

The landmarks commission will also consider on June 4 whether to officially recognize a portion of Portage Park as a historic bungalow district as proposed by the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association.