WBEZ | Eddie Carranza http://www.wbez.org/tags/eddie-carranza Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Can a closed movie palace define a sense of place? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-closed-movie-palace-define-sense-place-108990 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/PORTAGE-1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>I&rsquo;m standing in front of the shuttered 1,300-seat Portage Park Theater. It opened in 1920, back during the silent film era. Its cream-colored terra cotta tiles and giant marquee can can be seen up and down the street. But it&rsquo;s been shuttered since May when its owner Eddie Carranza closed the building. That move displaced art shows, second-run movies<br />and a winter farmers&rsquo; market, all the kinds of things that make up the essence of a community anchor, according to David Perry, professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Most people would suggest that anchor institutions are things that if<br />they leave, diminish the place immensely,&rdquo; Perry said. &ldquo;So the question is,<br />the&nbsp; Portage Park Theater, with its physicality, with its place, is this still Portage Park?&rdquo;</p><p>Well, it depends who you ask. Several groups that used the theater have moved on. The Northwest Chicago Film Society now shows its movies at the Patio Theatre about two miles away. The Silent Film Society took its annual festival to Des Plaines.<br />And there&rsquo;s no word yet on whether there will be a winter farmers&rsquo; market in the theater lobby, or anywhere in Portage Park.</p><p>With all of these institutions gone, some are rethinking what makes a community anchor, and if one&rsquo;s even needed anymore.</p><p>&ldquo;My philosophy is you don&rsquo;t put your eggs in one basket from an economic development<br />standpoint,&rdquo; said 45th Ward Ald. John Arena. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t just rely on one thing to be the thing to sustain you and that sustains you and sustains your foot traffic.&rdquo;</p><p>He&rsquo;d like to see the Portage to reopen. But Arena thinks we&rsquo;ve moved beyond the idea<br />of any single place being an anchor. Instead Arena is working to fill vacancies with several businesses including Chipotle and a Jimmy John&rsquo;s.</p><p>&ldquo;Because the market is too unpredictable,&rdquo; Arena explained. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t know how long the theater is going to be sustainable. And if one show doesn&rsquo;t produce, does that close the theater? Who knows?&rdquo;</p><p>But UIC Professor David Perry disagrees.</p><p>&ldquo;If they are place-based, I would simply say they have the potential to be an anchor,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If they&rsquo;re simply profit-based, and they could change tomorrow and change again tomorrow, (it) is probably something that (I) would advise against.&rdquo;</p><p>He pointed to another anchor, the 70-year-old Sears celebrating its anniversary a block away. Perry noted that the giant retailer wasn&rsquo;t enough to retain other business along the street.</p><p>But Perry said all the empty storefronts aren&rsquo;t necessarily a bad thing. He sees opportunity in all these vacancies the alderman is trying to fill. The Filament Theatre Ensemble opened right across from the Portage. And that&rsquo;ll keep the sense of place alive, he said.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons Chicago works even better than San Francisco or New York is that it&rsquo;s got neighborhoods like this where community theater can move into,&rdquo; Perry said.. &ldquo;Place matters in all sorts of different ways.&rdquo;</p><p>A few blocks away, at the Portage Park Farmer&rsquo;s Market, Todd Crnovich ducked the raindrops as he wandered among the stands. He bought honey from the same vendor he sought out during the winter, when the market moved into the Portage Theater lobby. Crnovich was OK with the alderman&#39;s plans to bring in some chain restaurants.</p><p>&ldquo;So I&rsquo;m not explaining to my kids, &lsquo;That&rsquo;s daddy&rsquo;s old comic shop, that&rsquo;s where daddy saw movies before he went home.&rsquo; I&rsquo;d like to be able to take my kid to a nice restaurant over there and take a walk with her and experience Portage Park,&rdquo; Crnovich said &ldquo;But that whole strip &hellip; it&rsquo;s nothing but memories.&rdquo;</p><p>Crnovich also would like to see the Portage reopen as a movie theater. But there are reports that a new tenant would use the venue for concerts. Owner Eddie Carranza couldn&rsquo;t be reached for comment. The&nbsp; theater website claims: &ldquo;movie and music theater operator coming soon.&rdquo;</p><p>Crnovich has mixed emotions about that possibility. He has fond memories of going to shows himself as a teen. But as a 38-year-old father, today he sees things a little differently.</p><p>&ldquo;Sure it&rsquo;ll bring money to the community,&rdquo; Crnovich said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;ll also bring what comes with concerts and venues like that. Kids acting goofy. Learning how to be adults and doing stupid things. Do I want that in my neighborhood? Of course not.&rdquo;</p><p>The future of the Portage Theater is still in question. It has landmark status, and is largely protected against demolition. And after more than 90 years here, Professor Perry said it&rsquo;ll continue to define the sense of place here in the neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;But it (the area) needs more than a Chipotle and a Jimmy Johns. In a very real sense it&rsquo;s going to require a substantial number of stores, &ldquo; Perry said. &ldquo;In the sense that Sears is an anchor of a mall, Portage Park Theater could be an anchor of the street. It could be.&rdquo;</p><p>How likely that is could depend on the Portage Theater owner, who&rsquo;s been coy about his plans.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Follow WBEZ Host &amp; Producer Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@yolandanews</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 23 Oct 2013 10:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-closed-movie-palace-define-sense-place-108990 Eddie Carranza books his first Portage Theater concert http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-06/eddie-carranza-books-his-first-portage-theater-concert-107640 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1kidink.jpg" title="" /></div><p>A little more than three weeks after pulling the plug on movies at the historic Portage Theater on the Northwest Side, controversial venue owner Erineo &ldquo;Eddie&rdquo; Carranza is putting tickets on sale tomorrow for his first musical offering at that venue: a show by Los Angeles rapper Kid Ink.</p><p>Tickets to the July 13<sup>th</sup> show go on sale Wednesday for $25 through <a href="http://www.ticketfly.com/">Ticketfly.com</a>. It is being advertised as an all-ages event; Carranza is fighting the revocation of his liquor license at the Congress Theater and has not yet secured a liquor license at his second venue the Portage.</p><p>Carranza had promised concerned residents at Six Corners that bookings at the Portage would be more in keeping with the neighborhood than the hip-hop and electronic dance acts featured at the Congress. It is open to debate how Kid Ink, born Brian Todd Collins and the author of jams such as &ldquo;Neva Gave a F---,&rdquo; &ldquo;Lost in the Sauce,&rdquo; &ldquo;Crazy (Loco),&rdquo; and &ldquo;Rumpshaker,&rdquo; fits that bill.</p><p>Meanwhile, building code violations at the Congress are contributing to an ever-lengthening roster of canceled shows there, <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130611/logan-square/congress-theater-shows-canceled-postponed-due-new-construction-problem">as reported by DNAinfo</a>.</p><p>The newest problem involves improper scaffolding on the first floor of the theater and work that was progressing without a permit. Once again, the city Law Department has ordered the theater closed until these problems are resolved.</p><p>Among the canceled performances at the Congress: the Evolution Music Tour, rescheduled from last weekend until July 27; a show by Juanes on Thursday, and the Still Awake Afterparty show on Friday.</p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage theaters:</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/portage-theater-didn%E2%80%99t-have-close-it-did-107368">May 26: The Portage Theater didn&rsquo;t have to close, but it did</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-liquor-license-revoked-107360">May 24: Congress Theater liquor license revoked</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-safe-or-not-106931">May 1: Is the Congress Theater safe or not?</a></p><p><em><strong>Follow me on Twitter </strong></em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis"><strong>@JimDeRogatis</strong></a><strong> <em>or join me on </em></strong><a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jim-DeRo/254753087340"><em><strong>Facebook</strong></em></a><em><strong>.</strong></em></p></p> Tue, 11 Jun 2013 14:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-06/eddie-carranza-books-his-first-portage-theater-concert-107640 Community groups scramble after Portage Theater closes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/community-groups-scramble-after-portage-theater-closes-107425 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/1513199400_5c3d405ff8_o.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Built in 1920, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portage_Theater">The Portage Theater</a> is one of Chicago&rsquo;s cinematic treasures.</p><p dir="ltr">Literally, the building&rsquo;s facade and interior space is landmarked.</p><p dir="ltr">But since a renovation in 2006, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/PortageTheater">the Portage </a>has developed a stellar reputation for its eclectic screenings of classic, silent, and horror movies, many of which are rare and/or can only be found on film.</p><p dir="ltr">That speaks to the partnerships the Portage has formed with a number of local film societies. &nbsp;And that&rsquo;s why so many local film buffs were left in the lurch when the Portage abruptly shut down recently.</p><p dir="ltr">But the closing has had a big impact on other community groups as well.</p><p dir="ltr">Today I talked with Mark Goles, who has been the volunteer assistant manager at the Portage for the past four years.</p><p dir="ltr">His job these days is finding new venues for all the groups, from schools to dance troupes, who were displaced when new owner (since late last year) Eddie Carranza shut things down.</p><p dir="ltr">Now the Portage&rsquo;s commitment to being a community resource goes way back as well. &nbsp;The theater is an anchor of the &ldquo;six corners&rdquo; business district on Chicago&rsquo;s northwest side. Gaper&rsquo;s Block has a great summary of some of the theater&rsquo;s key moments<a href="http://gapersblock.com/ac/2012/04/19/celluloid-graft-puppies-the-abbreviated-portage-theater-story/"> here</a>, including its stint selling war bonds and raffling puppies.</p><p dir="ltr">These days, Goles says they do graduations, weddings and birthday parties. Here&rsquo;s a short list of some of the other events/organizations that are searching for new space.</p><p dir="ltr">1. The Portage has been home to a number of dance troupes, including <a href="http://www.ricodancestudio.com/">Rico Music and Dance.</a> Rico was supposed to do a second performance of their &ldquo;Voice of a Child&rdquo; gospel play this Sunday (the first one sold out). &nbsp;Goles said he found them a new venue at <a href="http://www.schurzhs.org/">Schurz High School.</a></p><p dir="ltr">2. <a href="http://williampgrayschool.schoolfusion.us/">William P. Gray Elementary School.</a> The school has held its 8th grade graduation at The Portage for the past 5 years. A school official said they&rsquo;ve decided to use their own auditorium this year, though it isn&rsquo;t big enough. But there was no time to find another location.</p><p dir="ltr">3. <a href="http://6cornersbbqfest.com/?page_id=3494">6 Corners BBQ Fest</a> Like any other neighborhood, Portage Park has its share of summer festivals. The Portage participated with screenings and a wrestling event put together by Goles (who previously brought WWF champion CM Punk to the Portage!). Goles says he&rsquo;s looking for another venue.</p><p dir="ltr">4. <a href="http://spookshowentertainment.com/">Spook Show Entertainment</a> produced the Laugh or Die comedy festival, The Prairie State Film Festival and the Chicago Horror Film Festival. They&rsquo;re still in search of a new venue.</p><p dir="ltr">5. <a href="http://cfaff.org/">The Chicago Filipino American Film Festival </a>was booked at the Portage. No new location has been announced.</p><p dir="ltr">6. <a href="https://www.facebook.com/PortageTheater">Northwest Chicago Film Society</a>, the <a href="http://www.silentfilmchicago.com/">Silent Film Society</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/PortageMonsterShows">Monster John&rsquo;s Monster Shows</a>, and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/terrorintheaisles">Terror in the Aisles</a> all had regular programs at The Portage. Northwest found alternative venues for some of their immediate screenings; but are still looking for a long-term solution. Meanwhile Goles says the annual Silent Summer Film Festival, which typically runs July through August, is still looking for a space.</p><p>If you know of other community groups looking for space - or who&rsquo;ve found a home - please let me know!</p><p><b id="docs-internal-guid-60f38713-f355-8b5d-d001-758cfbfed1e0" style="font-weight:normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter. Follow her</span><a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@wbezacuddy</span></a><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">, on</span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Facebook</span></a><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and on</span><a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Instagram.</span></a></b></p></p> Wed, 29 May 2013 21:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-05/community-groups-scramble-after-portage-theater-closes-107425 Congress Theater gets another pass from the city http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-gets-another-pass-city-107101 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/congress_flickr_nickis.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="DJ Bassnectar at the Congress Theater in Chicago on April 14, 2012. (Flickr/Nicki Spunar)" />In his third appearance in Cook County Circuit Court Thursday facing a long list of building, health, and fire code violations at the 87-year-old Congress Theater, controversial venue owner Erineo &ldquo;Eddie&rdquo; Carranza once again was given the &ldquo;all&rsquo;s clear&rdquo; to continue operating.</div><p>During the court appearance, which lasted less than five minutes, attorneys for the city and Carranza updated Judge James McGing on building renovations, including the removal of obstructions from passageways in the corridors and installation of back-up lighting on the upper floors. Another inspection was scheduled for May 22, with another court date the following day.</p><p>Judy Frydland, the deputy corporation counsel who is the city&rsquo;s top building code enforcement official and the attorney prosecuting the case, said that there is a &ldquo;small show&rdquo; tomorrow night (the <a href="http://venue.congresschicago.com/event/256667-electric-circus-chicago/">Electric Circus</a> DJ event), but nothing else is scheduled past that date.&nbsp;This, however, contradicts the theater&rsquo;s list of upcoming concerts advertised <a href="http://venue.congresschicago.com/">on its own website</a>.</p><p>Carranza&rsquo;s lawyer said he wants a &ldquo;short court date&rdquo; for May 23, because they only have a few &ldquo;minor&rdquo; repairs to go and then they&rsquo;ll be &ldquo;ready to rock and roll,&rdquo; reopening the upper floors and restoring the capacity to one of the largest music venues in the city.</p><p>Thursday&rsquo;s quick hearing comes as no surprise, since <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/city-wants-congress-theater-shut-down-immediately-106698">after filing a lawsuit on April 12</a> seeking the immediate closure of the Congress based on a harrowing, 26-item, literally A-to-Z list of &ldquo;dangerous and hazardous&rdquo; building, health, and fire code violations, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-allowed-remain-open-next-inspection-scheduled-106799">the city flip-flopped a mere 10 days later</a> and declared that the main floor of the venue could remain open, though the second and third floors have been shut since January, and capacity is reduced from over 5,000 to 3,000.</p><p>Frydland <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-safe-or-not-106931">told this blog on May 1</a> that the city &ldquo;tries to work with&rdquo; venues like the Congress because, &ldquo;Theaters are like churches&hellip; They&rsquo;re also older buildings with large assemblies.&rdquo; Of course, crowds dense with 18-year-olds&mdash;some of them over-served with alcohol or high on drugs, according to testimony before the Liquor Commission&mdash;generally do not dance the night away in most churches.</p><p>As Chuck Sudo <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2013/04/23/congress_theater_gets_another_repri.php">wrote on Chicagoist on April 23</a>, &ldquo;Carranza has nine lives, a genie who granted him three wishes, a lucky rabbit&rsquo;s foot, a backyard full of four-leaf clovers, and a horseshoe planted firmly up his ass.&rdquo; Well, we now can assume that there also is a rainbow hovering over his Logan Square theater, as well as a stash of wishbones in its basement.</p><p>Carranza may not be so lucky on other fronts, however. While the latest <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater%E2%80%99s-neighbor-%E2%80%98sometimes-i-feel-i%E2%80%99m-monitoring-fifth-0">Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance hearing Tuesday</a> found the Department of Business Affairs cautiously optimistic about progress, the owner is awaiting a ruling about whether the Congress can keep its liquor license, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-defends-itself-liquor-commission-106912">following three hearings before the Liquor Commission</a> that included testimony about fights, drug activity, and security&rsquo;s mistreatment of concertgoers.</p><p>The venue owner also may be stymied in his plans to bring more music to another vintage theater at Six Corners on the Northwest Side, the Portage, which he purchased last September, two months before his bank filed a $4 million foreclosure suit (since settled) against the Congress.</p><p>On Wednesday, the City Council granted the Portage Theater landmark status, which could frustrate Carranza&rsquo;s plans for the venue to host live music as well as movies. Ald. John Arena (45<sup>th</sup>) has expressed extreme skepticism about Carranza and live music at the venue, and he praised the landmark designation <a href="https://www.facebook.com/john.arena.14/posts/10151757978018888">on his Facebook page</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;May the light from the projection booth shine long and bright for generations to come,&rdquo; Arena wrote.</p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage theaters:</u></strong></p><p><br /><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater%E2%80%99s-neighbor-%E2%80%98sometimes-i-feel-i%E2%80%99m-monitoring-fifth-0">May 7: Congress Theater&rsquo;s neighbor: &lsquo;Sometimes I feel like I&rsquo;m monitoring a fifth-grader running the venue&rsquo;</a> (By Leah Pickett and Jim DeRogatis)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-safe-or-not-106931">May 1: Is the Congress Theater safe or not?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-defends-itself-liquor-commission-106912">April 30: Congress Theater defends itself before the Liquor Commission</a> (By Leah Pickett and Jim DeRogatis)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/congress-theater-allowed-remain-open-next-inspection-scheduled-106799">April 23: Congress Theater allowed to remain open, next inspection scheduled</a> (Alison Cuddy reporting)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-04/city-wants-congress-theater-shut-down-immediately-106698">April 17: City wants the Congress shut down immediately</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/chicago-police-official-congress-theater-untruthful-night-underage">March 27: Chicago police official: Congress Theater &lsquo;untruthful&rsquo; on night of underage drinking</a> (Leah Pickett reporting)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/fate-portage-theater-remains-mystery-105970">March 8: The fate of the Portage remains a messy mystery</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/congress-theater-liquor-hearing-rescheduled-105941">March 6: Congress Theater hearing rescheduled</a> (Robin Amer reporting)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/congress-theater-restoration-underway-it%E2%80%99s-got-long-way-go-105685">Feb. 22: Congress Theater restoration underway, but it&rsquo;s got a long way to go</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/congress-theater-liquor-hearings-begin-undercover-cops-testimony-104950">Jan. 16: Congress Theater liquor hearings begin with undercover cop&rsquo;s testimony</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-12/rally-save-portage-theater-we-know-it-104169">Dec. 3, 2012: A rally to save the Portage Theater &lsquo;as we know it&rsquo;</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theater-defaults-4-million-loan-104101">Nov. 29, 2012: Congress Theater defaults on $4 million loan</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/portage-theater-uses-graham-elliot%E2%80%99s-name-vain-104089">Nov. 28, 2012: The Portage Theater uses Graham Elliot&rsquo;s name in vain</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theaters-new-security-chief-ex-cop-troubled-past-103611">Nov. 2, 2012: Congress Theater&rsquo;s new security chief: An ex-cop with a troubled past</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/congress-theater-police-calls-rank-soldier-field-united-center-103569">Oct. 31, 2012: Congress Theater police calls rank with Soldier Field, United Center</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/how-did-things-turn-so-bad-so-fast-portage-theater-102606">Sept. 23, 2012: How did things turn so bad so fast at the Portage Theater?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/new-owner-portage-theater-moves-evict-current-operators-102602">Sept. 22, 2012: New Owner of the Portage Theater moves to evict current operators</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/congress-theater-splits-development-partner-102451">Sept. 16, 2012: Congress Theater splits with development partner</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/portage-theater-what%E2%80%99s-eddie-102350">Sept. 11, 2012: The Portage Theater: What&rsquo;s Eddie up to?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-07/congress-theater-partners-up%E2%80%A6-and-looks-expand-101199">July 26, 2012: Congress Theater partners up&hellip; and looks to expand</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/culture/art/chicago-officials-scrutinize-public-safety-other-neighborhood-concerns-congress-theater">April 18, 2012: Chicago officials scrutinize public safety, other neighborhood concerns at Congress Theater</a> (Robin Amer reporting)</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/more-trouble-congress-theater-98249">April 14, 2012: More trouble at the Congress Theater</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-28/critical-congress-security-headliner-brings-his-own-97696">March 28, 2012: Critical of Congress security, headliner brings his own</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-25/congress-theater-responds-complaints-97597">March 25, 2012: Congress Theater responds to complaints</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">March 22, 2012: City to Congress Theater: Clean up your act!</a></p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 12:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-05/congress-theater-gets-another-pass-city-107101 Chicago police official: Congress Theater 'untruthful' on night of underage drinking http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/chicago-police-official-congress-theater-untruthful-night-underage <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/congress%20theater_flickr_ian%20friemuth_0.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px; " title="The Congress Theater, located at 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave., has been charged with five drug-related violations by the Chicago Liquor Control Commission. (Flickr/Ian Freimuth)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">A Chicago Police Department official has accused the Congress Theater of failing to cooperate with officers during an investigation into underage drinking at the venue.</div><p>Sgt. Joseph Giambrone testified that Congress staffers lied about serving alcohol when his unit arrived to investigate suspicions of underage drinking during a DJ Rusko set in the early hours of May 6, 2012.</p><p>Giambrone&rsquo;s testimony came during a disciplinary hearing at City Hall Tuesday morning, the second conducted by Chicago&rsquo;s Liquor Control Commission looking into alleged illegal activities at the Congress.</p><p>During his testimony, Giambrone described a call from the emergency room of Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center in Wicker Park that reported several concertgoers &ldquo;of various ages&rdquo; arriving from the Congress Theater via private ambulance with symptoms of extreme intoxication, many of them &ldquo;barely breathing.&rdquo;</p><p>Giambrone said that when officers arrived on the scene, Congress managers Atieh Abdelhadi and Ahmad Mahidi met him outside the venue and denied serving alcohol during the show.</p><p>Next, Giambrone said he observed Mahidi talking on his radio in &ldquo;a language that wasn&rsquo;t English,&rdquo; and then witnessed Abdelhadi running ahead to unscrew taps in the lobby bar and place cups upside down over the spigots as officers entered the venue.</p><p>Once inside, Giambrone claimed to see employees &ldquo;activating tap devices&rdquo; and serving &ldquo;amber-hued&rdquo; liquid to patrons by the stage.</p><p>Giambrone said he was also present at the Congress on the night of April 13, 2012, when his unit responded to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">a large fight</a> during a Chief Keef show. The venue did not call 911 to report this incident; defense attorney Harlan C. Powell hypothesized that venue staffers may have tried to call out to police officers already on the scene.</p><p>Powell questioned the credibility of the city&rsquo;s investigation, calling the allegations against his client &ldquo;grossly prejudicial.&rdquo;</p><p>To support his claim, Powell brought up a meeting that took place between Giambrone and the Congress Theater following these incidents. Powell said that during the meeting, venue personnel said they understood that any calls made to the police by the Congress would not be brought up in disciplinary actions.</p><p>However, Deputy Hearings Commissioner Robert Nolan rejected Powell&rsquo;s argument, stating that the events at issue occurred before any alleged conversations took place.</p><p>Tuesday&rsquo;s hearing was originally scheduled for March 6. But Powell &ndash; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/congress-theater-liquor-hearing-rescheduled-105941">the third attorney</a> to represent venue owner Erineo &ldquo;Eddie&rdquo; Carranza since his <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">troubles with city agencies</a> began in March of 2012 &ndash; requested more time to review the case from Deputy Commissioner Nolan.</p><p>The next hearing is scheduled for April 30.</p><p><em>Prior reporting by Jim DeRogatis. Research assistance by Jennifer Grandy.</em></p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage, from Jim DeRogatis:</u></strong></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/fate-portage-theater-remains-mystery-105970">March 8: The fate of the Portage remains a messy mystery</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-03/congress-theater-liquor-hearing-rescheduled-105941">March 6: Congress Theater hearing rescheduled</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/congress-theater-restoration-underway-it%E2%80%99s-got-long-way-go-105685">Feb. 22: Congress Theater restoration underway, but it&rsquo;s got a long way to go</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/congress-theater-liquor-hearings-begin-undercover-cops-testimony-104950">Jan. 16: Congress Theater liquor hearings begin with undercover cop&rsquo;s testimony</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-12/rally-save-portage-theater-we-know-it-104169">Dec. 3, 2012: A rally to save the Portage Theater &lsquo;as we know it&rsquo;</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/portage-theater-uses-graham-elliot%E2%80%99s-name-vain-104089">Nov. 28, 2012: The Portage Theater uses Graham Elliot&rsquo;s name in vain</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theaters-new-security-chief-ex-cop-troubled-past-103611">Nov. 2, 2012: Congress Theater&rsquo;s new security chief: An ex-cop with a troubled past</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/congress-theater-police-calls-rank-soldier-field-united-center-103569">Oct. 31, 2012: Congress Theater police calls rank with Soldier Field, United Center</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/how-did-things-turn-so-bad-so-fast-portage-theater-102606">Sept. 23, 2012: How did things turn so bad so fast at the Portage Theater?</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/new-owner-portage-theater-moves-evict-current-operators-102602">Sept. 22, 2012: New Owner of the Portage Theater moves to evict current operators</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/congress-theater-splits-development-partner-102451">Sept. 16, 2012: Congress Theater splits with development partner</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/portage-theater-what%E2%80%99s-eddie-102350">Sept. 11, 2012: The Portage Theater: What&rsquo;s Eddie up to?</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-07/congress-theater-partners-up%E2%80%A6-and-looks-expand-101199">July 26, 2012: Congress Theater partners up&hellip; and looks to expand</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/more-trouble-congress-theater-98249">April 14, 2012: More trouble at the Congress Theater</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-28/critical-congress-security-headliner-brings-his-own-97696">March 28, 2012: Critical of Congress security, headliner brings his own</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-25/congress-theater-responds-complaints-97597">March 25, 2012: Congress Theater responds to complaints</a></u></p><p><u><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">March 22, 2012: City to Congress Theater: Clean up your act!</a></u></p><p><em>Leah Pickett blogs about pop culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/chicago-police-official-congress-theater-untruthful-night-underage Congress Theater restoration underway, but it’s got a long way to go http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/congress-theater-restoration-underway-it%E2%80%99s-got-long-way-go-105685 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/congress theater_Bey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Following in its tradition of surprisingly gullible and shortsighted reporting on Chicago&rsquo;s most troubled music venue, DNAinfo.com declared in a headline yesterday that &ldquo;<a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130221/logan-square/congress-theater-owner-wants-restore-it-its-1920s-glory">Congress Theater Owner Wants Venue Restored to Its 1920s Glory</a>,&rdquo; adding in the lede of the story: &ldquo;The days may be numbered for anyone who loves to complain about the dismal bathrooms.&rdquo;</p><p>Well, controversial venue owner Erineo &ldquo;Eddie&rdquo; Carranza may indeed want the historic theater restored to its prime. But as is made clear in the city Building Department&rsquo;s ongoing legal proceedings against him, which cite a daunting list of 37 violations, he&rsquo;s got a long way to go to get there.</p><p>In fact, city inspectors recently ordered the Congress closed to the public for eight days, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 7, because of the lack of quick-release &ldquo;panic bars&rdquo; on exit doors&mdash;a situation that proved fatal during the notorious stampede at the E2 Nightclub in 2003.</p><p>Furthermore, the violations on the upper levels of the building have resulted in the second and third floors being sealed off to concertgoers. The only exception is that patrons are allowed access to the second-floor bathroom&mdash;the dismal state of which remains open to debate.</p><p>Carranza and the Congress are doing battle with the city on three fronts, any one of which could result in shuttering the venue. Hearings before the Liquor Commission could result in the loss of the theater&rsquo;s liquor license; the next session takes place on March 5. Hearings on the building code violations, which are being prosecuted by an attorney from the Law Department&rsquo;s Drug and Gang House Enforcement Section, opened on Jan. 31 and resume on May 9. Finally, there are the much-publicized Deleterious Impact/Public Nuisance proceedings, which resume on May 7, and which prompted the other two, potentially more serious lawsuits.</p><p>While DNAinfo reporter Victoria Johnson cheerfully quotes Carranza&rsquo;s optimistic promises for a spiffy Congress development that will include a community center, a premium bar, a café, a restaurant, an ice cream shop, a grocery store and a second, smaller nightclub, and her photographs show a fresh coat of paint being applied here and there, the substance of the 37 building code violations or the recent closures at the venue are not addressed.</p><p>&ldquo;There are serious problems at the Congress,&rdquo; a city official told this blog. &ldquo;While the owner seems intent on remedying them, it is going to take a ton of money just to bring the building up to code.&rdquo;</p><p>Lighting repairs alone top $100,000, the official added. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s just the tip of the iceberg.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, Carranza has had no further word on the mysterious corporate partner and savior he promised <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20121217/logan-square/partnership-works-for-congress-portage-theaters">DNAinfo</a> in early January. As this blog earlier reported, representatives of the monopolistic national concert giant Live Nation met early in the new year with city officials and discussed an interest in leasing and operating both the Congress and the Portage theaters, though there has been no action in that regard in the last seven weeks.</p><p>Live Nation has so far declined to respond to requests for comment today and in mid-January.</p><p><strong><u>Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage:</u></strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-01/congress-theater-liquor-hearings-begin-undercover-cops-testimony-104950">Jan. 16: Congress Theater liquor hearings begin with undercover cop&rsquo;s testimony</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-12/rally-save-portage-theater-we-know-it-104169">Dec. 3, 2012: A rally to save the Portage Theater &lsquo;as we know it&rsquo;</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/portage-theater-uses-graham-elliot%E2%80%99s-name-vain-104089">Nov. 28, 2012: The Portage Theater uses Graham Elliot&rsquo;s name in vain</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/congress-theaters-new-security-chief-ex-cop-troubled-past-103611">Nov. 2, 2012: Congress Theater&rsquo;s new security chief: An ex-cop with a troubled past</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/congress-theater-police-calls-rank-soldier-field-united-center-103569">Oct. 31, 2012: Congress Theater police calls rank with Soldier Field, United Center</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/how-did-things-turn-so-bad-so-fast-portage-theater-102606">Sept. 23, 2012: How did things turn so bad so fast at the Portage Theater?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/new-owner-portage-theater-moves-evict-current-operators-102602">Sept. 22, 2012: New Owner of the Portage Theater moves to evict current operators</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/congress-theater-splits-development-partner-102451">Sept. 16, 2012: Congress Theater splits with development partner</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-09/portage-theater-what%E2%80%99s-eddie-102350">Sept. 11, 2012: The Portage Theater: What&rsquo;s Eddie up to?</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-07/congress-theater-partners-up%E2%80%A6-and-looks-expand-101199">July 26, 2012: Congress Theater partners up&hellip; and looks to expand</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-04/more-trouble-congress-theater-98249">April 14, 2012: More trouble at the Congress Theater</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-28/critical-congress-security-headliner-brings-his-own-97696">March 28, 2012: Critical of Congress security, headliner brings his own</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-25/congress-theater-responds-complaints-97597">March 25, 2012: Congress Theater responds to complaints</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-22/city-congress-theater-clean-your-act-97549">March 22, 2012: City to Congress Theater: Clean up your act!</a></p></p> Fri, 22 Feb 2013 12:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2013-02/congress-theater-restoration-underway-it%E2%80%99s-got-long-way-go-105685