New owner of the Portage Theater moves to evict current operators

September 22, 2012

UPDATE SUNDAY MORNING

Contradicting promises he made to neighbors and city officials, controversial venue owner Erineo “Eddie” Carranza has served a five-day eviction notice to the much-admired operators of the Portage Theater.

Sources say Carranza, who also owns the troubled Congress Theater in Logan Square, served notice Wednesday Friday to the operators of the Portage, which he bought on Sept. 1 for a figure a source familiar with the deal put at close to $3 million.

Partnering with hardcore film buffs in organizations such as the Silent Film Society of Chicago and the Northwest Chicago Film Society, David Dziedzic and the management team currently in place at the Portage have for years offered a rich calendar of eclectic film programming. Their lease runs through 2015, but they owe some back rent, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Sources familiar with the situation say Dziedzic was in fact paying to make substantial repairs on the building that should rightly have been done by the former owners, and some of the rent that is in arrears was waived because of that work.

While it took seven years for Carranza to anger neigbors and Logan Square Ald. Proco "Joe" Moreno to the point where the city official brought the Congress Theater to city hearings, the mercurial promoter took only three weeks to turn many members of Six Corners neighborhood and Ald. John Arena against him. Yesterday, Arena released the following statement in an email blast to constituents:

My office learned early Saturday that Mr. Carranza is threatening to evict the current operators of the Portage Theater for lack of payment of a disputed amount of back rent. This is despite assurances Mr. Carranza gave the Old Irving Park Association, the Six Corners Association, the current operators, and me that he would not make any changes to the operations at the Portage in the short term. Additionally, Mr. Carranza's attorney on Wednesday assured the operators and me that he would not evict the operators. 

In short, Mr. Carranza lied to me, and he lied to the community... [He] has already shown during his short ownership of the Portage that he is not a man of his word.

The statement went on to indicate that Arena would block any attempt by Carranza to secure a liquor or public place of amusement license for the Portage. (Those licenses leave the building with the current operators if Carranza succeeds in forcing them out.)

The situation is developing; much more to come soon.

Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage:

Sept. 16: Congress Theater splits with development partner

Sept. 11: The Portage Theater: What’s Eddie up to?

July 26: Congress Theater partners up… and looks to expand

April 14: More trouble at the Congress Theater

March 28: Critical of Congress security, headliner brings his own

March 25: Congress Theater responds to complaints

March 22: City to Congress Theater: Clean up your act!